LD: Nick Richings Prod LX: Dino Anthony Photo: Paul Coltas
Nine years after its first stage production, the mass appeal of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert shows no sign of waning. The musical story of two drag queens and a transgender woman crossing Australia in their eponymous tour bus is currently on its second UK tour, with a lighting rig supplied by SLX.
Nick Richings is the lighting designer for this tour and was given a blank piece of paper by the producers.
"I didn't have to base it on any of the previous productions, which had been based on Nick Schlieper's design for the Australian production," he says. "It was good to be able to give it a new, fresh look, allowing me to use LEDs and moving lights a little more than on previous productions.
"The producers wanted it to be brash for the disco numbers, but still be able to tell the story in the book scenes. So we needed something subtle enough to not be too in your face, but have enough grunt to make it look spectacular when we go to the disco diva moments. Technology has moved on, as have expectations. Audiences expect the X Factor / Strictly look, so I wanted to put some of that into it."
Nick chose mainly Martin Professional MAC fixtures, principally Quantums, Vipers and Auras.
"I used Quantums on The Sound of Music and was very impressed with them, they are bright, physically very light, the fan noise is minimal and I enjoyed using them," says Nick. "We also needed a fixture with shutters, so I chose the Viper Performance."
He continues, "Another key reason for choosing mainly MAC fixtures is their proven reliability as a touring fixture."
"Another advantage of the LED fixtures is there is no ongoing replacement lamp cost, which was another payoff with the budget."
The willingness of SLX to invest in new equipment, specifically for the tour is a measure of how committed the company is behind the UK's touring theatre industry.
"Stage Electrics [ now SLX] have been fantastic as always. They were very keen to go down the new technology path, to move on and get new equipment," says Nick.
"Working with Stage Electrics [now SLX] has been great," adds touring chief Alex Lynn, who has a long relationship with the company. "I can ring them up at any time and talk through anything I need to. If we need any equipment or spares they are always with us next day. As a supplier they are incredibly supportive."