Friday, 26 April 2013

GHOST THE MUSICAL (UK Tour) Behind The Scenes

After it's world premiere at the Manchester Opera House in 2011, Ghost The Musical has since wowed audiences in the West End and on Broadway. The original London staging will be sent across the globe for use on the Korean production due to open later this year. For the UK tour, a complete re-design (which is no way a scale down) travels the length and breadth of the country in 10 articulated lorries.

A team of over 110 riggers, engineers, electricians, carpenters, crew, prop makers, costume and wig staff, designers and production supervisors worked in shifts over 96 consecutive hours prior to the technical rehearsals at the tours opening venue - The Wales Millennium Centre. The get-in for the show takes approximately 50 hours just to set everything up in each venue and 10 hours to get back out.

A ghost's eye view! Image: Ghost The Musical

The truss suspended from the venue's grid can be seen on the photo above and weighs just over 21 tonnes. There are 86 intelligent lights in the rig which by the time of Oda Mae Brown's song I'm Outta Here are lowered into full view of the audience and blast out in every imaginable colour. 

Just as the set did in the original production, the tour features LED video screen walls that make up a significant part of the shows set. There are 7 automated video walls that are made up of 172,176 LED pixels in total. 17 computers control all of the set, lighting, sound and effects. Monitor screens backstage show the stage in black and white, colour and from all angles to ensure that the illusions can be successfully executed - there is very little margin for error. 

The stage is through there... somewhere!

In addition to all of that there are 5 projectors that are rigged front of house. Images of Sam and Molly are projected all over the stage area and every possible lead performer and understudy combination of Sams and Mollys have to be photographed and filmed together. Even the finest details on the show are carefully considered. All of the driving licenses and passports, record files have photos of the actual cast member playing the role on them, and change with each understudy. All of the sheets of paper in the show are American sized and all of the props were sourced and brought over from America. The vending machine in the Subway scene is full of authentic American candy. Props such as the polystyrene coffee cups are filled with expanding foam to make them last the duration of the tour. 

There are a total of 58 wigs used during the show that are washed, set and maintained by 3 members of the wig department. There are 65 quick costume changes and most of these take place in a Wardrobe Quick Change area at the back of the stage. In this area costumes such as Oda Mae's hideous pink leopard print suit are hung and ready to be fitted - the skirt is hung inside out for speed. The fastest quick change is only 6 seconds! The wigs table is carefully laid out in this area too and includes Sisters Clara and Louise, the Subway Ghost and many of the period costumed ghosts. In total there are 217 costumes in the show and 112 pairs of shoes. 

The view from the wings of downstage right.

As big as the production may be, the stage performance area is actually quite intimate and a purple floor surface is laid down over the existing stage. The stage floor features tracks in which pallets move across with pieces of set on, such as desks and sofas. In the London production there were moving conveyer-belt tracks and pieces of set that came up through the stage floor, but for the tour it's all reconfigured to come on seamlessly from above or from the wings.  

Combining every element of the show, it is clear to see the enormity of the production's scale. It is quite possible that Ghost The Musical is the most technically complex production to ever tour the United Kingdom. 

Just one final image, if you thought the wires at the back of your TV were complicated.... 

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