Painting with Light Goes Wild with Madagascar Live

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Luc Peumans from Genk, Belgium based creative visual design practice, Painting With Light, has designed stage and set lighting for the first arena touring production of Dreamworks’ ‘Madagascar LIVE!”

Brought on-board by Netherlands based producers, Stage Entertainment Touring Productions, Peumans’ joined a seriously talented and acclaimed creative team on a show high in production values that is scheduled to tour internationally for two years.

His work brings atmosphere and vibrancy to the pacey musical that follows the adventures, thrills, spills and comedy moments of a group of escapees from Central Park Zoo in New York … who find themselves shipwrecked on the sandy shores of Madagascar!

Peumans used David Gallow’s stage / set design, based on a series of curtains, elaborate scenic and printed drops, drapes and scrims used to create the different locations, as the starting point for his design.

“It needed a careful combination of theatrical trickery, classical lighting and epic arena looks all of which brought the drapes to life and the stage into context,” explains Peumans.

Imaginative lighting is fundamental to making the show’s narrative animated and bringing its energy out into the audience, as well as building mood, drama and environmental elements like night and day.

The equipment specification had to be practical and efficient to tour and get in, up and ready quickly and painlessly. Another challenge was that the lighting rig had to work when either flown or ground supported – as this varies in different venues.

For that reason, he specified four pre-rigged trusses - three over-stage and one at FOH - in which many of the lighting fixtures can travel without being de-rigged.

Lighting contractor Phlippo Showlights from Belgium invested in new Interal P 36 APT pre-rig trussing to service the show.

The moving lights are a mix of Clay Paky and Vari*Lite, with 28 of the new Clay Paky 800 QWO Profiles, eight CP Alpha Spot 1500s plus 17 x Vari*Lite 2500 Spots and 38 x V*L 2500 Washes.

Peumans makes extensive use of the effects and texturing options offered by the spot and profile fixtures, and takes full advantage of the numerous opportunities for different colour combinations to flourish onstage – subtly and boldly - complementing Greg Barnes’ amazing costumes.

This is not a massive amount of automated lights for an arena show, but quality programming achieves great multifunctional results.

The various back-cloths, legs and borders are highlighted with 72 x LEDBar LED battens, a custom product developed by Phlippo’s URC (United Rental Company) division, comprising 18 x 3 Watt RGB LEDs in a one metre long housing.

There are also various LED PARs dotted around the rig plus a selection of set practicals.

The heavy emphasis on moving lights saves time during set ups and tech sessions as less focusing time is required than a rig with more generics.

Peumans specified two Robert Juliat Ivanhoe follow spots, which are fitted with short throw lenses and hung from the front truss so they produce night tight neat beams at a steep angle down on to the stage.

There is also plenty of atmospheric enhancement in the form of Jem Glaciators, Look Viper 2.6 foggers and Mk6 Viscount hazers.

The show was rehearsed and tech’d in Utrecht where the lighting was programmed on a grandMA2 full size console by Painting With Light’s Paco Mispelters and Peumans, and then transferred to a grandma2 Light for the tour which has started in the UK.

On the road, lighting is run by Paco Palozon, one of two lighting crew from Spain who join a truly international technical production team.

Peumans comments, “It was a nice experience to work again on a traditional theatrical style show – without modern media techniques like projection or LED screens – which felt more like back to basics … and ‘less is more’. I like that philosophy! It’s all about creating the right atmosphere in the right place and in the right context, then allowing the audience’s imaginations do the rest.

Madagascar LIVE! Is directed by Gip Hopper, the Technical Production Manager is Bart de Coensel and Executive Producer is Hans Staal assisted by Associate Producer Kiki Venhuizen for Stage Entertainment Touring Productions.

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