Disco Inferno – the musical

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Celebration, the opening number from Disco Inferno
Celebration, the opening number from Disco Inferno
Well it’s just about a week now since I finished working on Reading Operatic‘s production of Disco Inferno – in fact the get out finished at 5am on Sunday but who is splitting hairs!

This was a bit of a surprise bundle for me, insofar as I had never seen the show before and there didn’t appear to be much in the way of any information on it on the internet. Probably best described as in the ‘We Will Rock You/Mamma Mia genre with the devlish influence of Witches of Eastwick and the disco hits of the 1970s, author Jai Sepple wrote the show in 1993 to, in his words, “rekindle some of those long forgotten memories of the decade of flares, platforms, glam and disco” and in that he succeeded. In a lengthy three hours or so the show romps through 25 of the most recognisable hits of the era, punctuated by a story about the perils of greed and the desire for stardom.

If You Leave Me Now from Disco Inferno
If You Leave Me Now from Disco Inferno
Given that my lighting days started with using a PAR can rig in some rather souped-up discos in the late 70s it seemed I was destined to design the lights for this show at some point. And indeed I used no less than 60 PAR 64 CP62 lanterns in the rig, in a period-appropriate four-colour wash of L106 (red), L179 (chrome orange), L128 (pink) and L118 (medium blue). Deja vu!

What was very different though was also to employ six Mac 700 profiles, four front of house and two on stage. These were used extensively to provide animated lighting in the dance sequences, plus rain and fire effects and also to do quite a bit of the work on special positions. Underpinning it all was a cool wash (L200/L201) and a warm wash (L134/L204), plus a bunch of SLs covering special positions, front projected gobos and to provide the effect of a cinema.

I also designed and ordered a new Reading Operatic gobo from Projected Image, who provided really excellent service and a good quality product.

Funeral Scene from Disco Inferno
Funeral Scene from Disco Inferno
The cue count hit 264 over 29 scenes, which is by far the biggest show I have plotted. And it all had to be done in a big hurry, mostly without cast on stage over two days before the show went up on Tuesday. My thanks to all the Hexagon staff and in particular to Adrian Croton for all the focusing and plotting involved.

It was a lively cast with many newcomers in the Reading Operatic ranks and al the effort was rewarded by improving houses through the week. Given that even the professional touring production of Annie had drawn houses as low as 180 in the early part of its Hexagon run the week before then altogether a notable achievement.

I’m now heading for a busy spell in terms of lighting. First will be a week of followspotting for Starmaker’s production of Our House at the Wilde Theatre, then back to designing, rigging, plotting and running Mostly G&S’s production of The Yeomen of the Guard at The Oakwood Theatre, then Sainsbury’s Singers’ Strictly Musicals show at the Kenton Henley and the Reading Concert Hall before rounding the year out at the Hexagon for Reading Central Salvation Army Carol Concert.

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