With a theatre onsite for over 350 years, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, has a heritage and longevity unrivalled even amongst its neighbors in London’s West End. Its present incarnation, a mere couple of centuries old, boasts a depth of stage that few can offer, making it perfect for lavish musical productions such as the current run of 42nd Street.
This latest production, with 80’s legend Sheena Easton in the starring role makes the most of a stage area packed with props, sets and a huge cast. It was obvious from the start that a haze generator was required that could easily deal with the enormous stage space for the entire show without compromising the performances or the extensive lighting rig supplied by White Light Ltd.
MDG’s ATMe haze generator proved ideal for the job, “I first came across MDG about ten years ago on a show in South Africa,” says Declan Randall, associate LD to 42nd Street’s lighting designer, Peter Mumford. “I was so impressed with the haze that I went backstage to investigate what they were using and I’ve been a fan ever since.” Peter and Declan opted to use two of the ATMe units, next-step developments from the ever-popular MDG Atmosphere because of its more efficient power consumption and increased output which it combines with a high level of controllability.
“On a show like this with high production values we could have chosen pretty much whatever we wanted,” continues Declan, “But as far as I’m concerned, MDG is the go-to manufacturer and the one to use whenever possible.” “Aside from the energy and output benefits, the ATMe has the added improvement of total 0-100% variable output which you can control via DMX/RDM and a 100% duty cycle. On 42nd Street then, the generators are required to run for the entire show so having machines that can maintain their output consistently is vital.
“Seen from front-of-house, there’s no apparent source to the haze whereas as with most hazers you are aware of it chugging away in a corner somewhere. That might be acceptable if it were being used in a single specific song to enhance a look or create an atmosphere but in this show it has to be constant. Consistent, yet subtle. With the ATMes we can achieve a really good quality haze with no clouds whilst achieving good distribution from top to bottom. Yet, what really impressed me were the quality and effectiveness of the beams, projected all the way from fixture to floor.” Peter agrees, “I’m delighted with the performance of the ATMes which I find create a haze that just lights the beams without looking like the ‘bacon’s burning’, if you know what I mean,” he says. “I also appreciate the fact that they cause much fewer issues when it comes to performers complaining about ‘stuff in the air’. That can be quite an issue, especially in the opera world.”
Theatre Royal stage is set-heavy for this production, the amount of traffic on and off stage with the constant movement of scenery during the show means the decision was made to locate the ATMe generators up on the fly-floor. They are positioned stage left and right with two DMX fans directing the haze downwards and moving it about. One concern about this trim height location was a possible issue with clogging of fans and filters of the lighting fixtures in the rig but this has proved to be a needless worry. “This may not be the ideal location but the hazers are still doing their job and doing well,” says Declan, “To date we have had no complaints from the maintenance technicians!”
“The use of CO2 in hazers is not an issue these days,” concludes Declan. “Stage and production managers are more familiar and comfortable with the rules and regulations involved as good haze delivery can make the difference between a good light show and a great light show, so the relevant proper planning of hazers should be as important as every other ingredient in the design. Furthermore, a great haze result is when no-one notices it’s there!”
Photo© to Brinkhoff & Moegenburg