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GDS provides rain-proof solution

The Chichester Festival Theatre - whose first artistic director was Laurence Olivier - is renowned among theatre-goers throughout the UK. For its recent staging of 'Singing In the Rain', GDS were challenged to provide an appropriate lighting solution.

Positioned in the beautiful surroundings of Oaklands Park, Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the UK’s flagship theatres, with an international reputation for producing a wide range of theatrical productions, from musicals and comedies, to classic drama and innovative new writing. Since opening in 1962, Chichester Festival Theatre has become one of the UK’s leading regional venues. The Festival Theatre was founded by Leslie Evershed-Martin CBE and its first artistic director was Laurence Olivier.

With 1,206 seats, the Festival Theatre was the first modern theatre in the UK to have an open ‘thrust’ stage with the audience seated around it on three sides, allowing it a close involvement with the actors. The emphasis of the theatre’s programme is on the Summer Festival, which runs from April to September and includes the show Singing in the Rain, which is based on the classic MGM movie.

GDS were commissioned to deliver a bespoke lighting solution for Singing in the Rain. The production team required a waterproof RGB, colour mixing, LED product to be installed into the proscenium arches, pavement cracks, step risers, pavement slabs and the Hollywood stars set into the stage. The product was required to be bright LED, colour changing, controlled by DMX and most importantly fully waterproof.

Nick Read Head of GDSspecials worked closely with production manager Paul Hennesseyr, LD Tim Mitchell and set designer Simon Higlett, along with Sam Garner Gibbons the technical manager of the theatre to realise their creative design within the time, cost and technical parameters of the season – and it being suitably waterproof for a show called Singing in the Rain… The result was a custom-built, fully controllable waterproof lighting system.

Installed into the set were 73 sets of RGB controlled lighting, breaking down to 250 meters of fully controllable, IP68-rated, RGB LED flexible strip lighting and 50 metres of white, IP68-rated, strip lighting. The LEDs were controlled using custom-built LiteWare CV Control boards over DMX.

“The creation of the GDSspecials division allows us offer a bespoke design and manufacturing service enabling our clients to overcome problems that could not be not solved with off the shelf products,” said Matt Lloyd, managing director of GDS. “The guys at the Chichester Festival Theatre came to us with a challenging brief but our in-house specialists were able to offer them a solution and manage the project from the design stages to the installation. Working closely with the theatre’s production team, Nick and the GDSspecials team were able to ensure we delivered a product that was exactly what the show required”.”