This year marks the debut of the International Festival of Musical Theatre in Cardiff, Wales, and White Light is supporting the event by supplying the lighting for the Festival's centerpiece production, Babes in Arms, at the Cardiff New Theatre. The rig performed double duty, also lighting the Festival's opening Gala Concert.
Faced with the challenges of minimal rigging time, no changeover time between concert and show, little focusing time, and two shows to light, lighting designer Neil Austin opted for a largely automated rig featuring 16 Amptown Washlights with beam shuttering and 10 Strand Pirouette PCs with Rainbow scrollers. Austin selected both units because of his preference for working with tungsten light sources, but complemented them with four Martin MAC 500 moving spotlights. Completing the rig were Strand Alto and Cantata fresnels, PAR cans, ETC Source Fours, Lighting & Electronics battens as footlights, and 32 Rainbow scrollers. White Light also supplied Austin and production electrician Martin Chisnall with two 48-way White Light touring dimmer racks to run the rig, which was controlled from a Strand 520i console programmed by Rob Halliday. Also closely involved with the show was White Light's assistant hire manager Matt Holliday, who, having overseen the rig from first order through delivery to Cardiff, then served as assistant lighting designer during the production week. Overseeing the entire project was production manager Richard Bullimore.
Complementing the latest lighting technology were some classic lighting instruments used to set the time period for the show and identify its theatrical setting. This element of the rig, which included Patt 35s, Patt 43s, Patt 49s, Patt 53s, Patt 58s, and Patt 76s, was loaned to the production by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama; White Light prepped the lanterns and arranged transport along with the other equipment.
Babes in Arms, the classic musical by Richard Rodgers (the featured composer of this year's festival) and Lorenz Hart, includes such standards as "My Funny Valentine" and "The Lady Is a Tramp." The Cardiff production was directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Bill Deamer, and designed by Mark Bailey. Other shows featured in the Festival include concert productions of Ragtime, Anyone Can Whistle, and Carousel, the first production of the new school edition of Les Misérables, and new shows including Sadly Solo Joe and others discovered as part of the Global Search for New Musicals. The Festival also incorporates the BBC Radio 2 Voice of Musical Theatre 2002 competition finals; the award will be filmed by BBC Television, who will also make use of the rig supplied for Babes in Arms. The Festival runs until November 3, with the next scheduled for 2004.