Brilliant Stages were approached by Chris Vaughan, production manager for Take That’s Beautiful World European tour, to create the main stage and effects. With a design by Mark Fisher’s Ray Winkler, Brilliant Stages had to devise a construction that would not only realize Winkler’s design, but would be easy to assemble, breakdown, transport, and be durable enough to survive a 49-date road tour.
“I chose Brilliant Stages because their stages are always beautifully built. They present you with 3D drawings at the design stage which means alterations can be made early on and there is far less to change during production rehearsals,” says Vaughan. “All the components fit together accurately and quickly which is vital in allowing me to fulfil our tight touring schedules.”
The initial structural design was carefully thought out and planned by Brilliant Stages’ CAD department to ensure a sound and solid structure. The main stage, at 7.38 feet (2.25 meters) high, incorporates full access to all areas below stage level including dressing rooms, stage mechanics, props, and crew areas.
The whole construction is built using heavy duty castors so it can be assembled away from the lighting rig and then pushed into place once the lighting rig is flown out. On breakdown, it has been designed to flat pack into dollie-sized sections which load eight to a truck for road transportation.
Screamers to either side of the main stage conceal technician bunkers for the monitor sound engineer and guitar technician, with each technician having a sightline to the main stage through sloping louver panels.
Completing the stage area at the front is a lower thrust platform, 4.92 feet (1.5 meters) high, and accessed through bi-parting stairs from below the main stage. The thrust has built in propane flame-throwers and a lighting shelf to hold moving lights and provide adequate safety space between the pyro effects and the audience.
The set consists of six rolling risers of varying heights that lock together to form a “giant causeway” where the band and dancers perform. Each riser has a front fascia of mesh and diffusion gel to facilitate backlighting. Risers are bolted together in clusters rather than flat-packed to keep assembly as fast as possible. They are also lightweight and designed to be forked off and dismantled remotely.
Brilliant Stages also supplied four rotating and rolling lectern props for the top of the show that are used again later in the show during the lap dancing sequence.
In addition to the main construction, Brilliant Stages also implemented the design concept for some complex specialist effects.
Two 19.68 feet (6 meters) x 4.92 feet (1.5 meters) travellators, which have to operate at sprinting speed while carrying the band members, are set side by side into the stage while two hydraulic scissor lifts nearby were constructed to feed scenery onto the downstage section.
Brilliant Stages also devised a white stretch Lycra® material formed in overlapping sections to create the giant 40.02-foot (12.2 meters) walk-through Japanese fan which emerges out of, and folds back into, the stage. Acting both as a projection screen and a stage partition, the band members must also be able pass through it with ease.
Finally, a 114.82-foot (35 meter) suspended catwalk was required to access the B stage. This was flown in on chain hoists above the audience so Take That could make their way up a ramp to the walkway, walk half the length of the arena, and alight down a hinged set of steps to the secondary stage.
As with all Brilliant Stages constructions, every element is designed to package into touring transport carts or be equipped in such a way to be speedily assembled and dismantled to cope with touring time restraints.
“Tony and Warren have touring experience and you can see this in how they think through the process of how their stages are built,” says Vaughan. “Our first back to back turnaround was between Barcelona and Milan, with a 500 mile trip in between. It was tough but achievable since we knew we could rely on the built-in logistics. We managed to the fit up in five hours—quite an achievement for a 21-truck production. There is always a smile and a sigh of relief from our crews when they know we are using Brilliant Stages.