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White Light handed ‘The Best Man’ duties for West End play

Lighting specialist brought in to provide lighting equipment for latest play to hit London as part of UK tour 

White Light has continued its successful run in lighting up London’s West End by providing lighting equipment for newly opened play, The Best Man at the Playhouse Theatre.

Having already provided (providing) lighting solutions for popular shows such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Aladdin, Young Frankenstein, The Birthday Party, along with the upcoming Tina: The Musical, the firm teamed up with lighting designer Chris Davey to manage the effects required throughout the production.

“The entire play is set in a hotel suite in Philadelphia, which houses both of the candidates,” explained Davey. “In terms of the set, there is a huge gauze wall with a bedroom upstage that disappears at certain points throughout the show. That said, the most important part of set, in terms of lighting, was the huge window positioned stage right. One of my biggest tasks was to make the window believable that it was lighting the room at various points throughout the day”.

To achieve this, Davey drew on a range of 5kw Fresnels – a flat lens made of a number of concentric rings – to reduce spherical aberration.

He explains: “The Fresnels made the windows bright enough yet ensured that all of the cast received the correct amount of lighting coverage. The evening scenes contain a heavy top light to suggest a chandelier and par cans skim across the net curtain to imply the street lights outside; with the suite being based on the third floor”.

Flash light 

For the rest of his design, Davey worked with set designer Michael Taylor to produce the required effects throughout the performance, including the illusion of flash photography. . He explained: “Overhead, the rig consists largely of Lustr Mk2 Fresnels. I used them as space is tight due to newspaper headlines being flown from above. As there wasn’t enough space to rig a warm and cold wash, the Lustrs allowed much more possibilities and often change colour during a scene. I also drew on three data flashes for the camera effects off the paparazzi who are stood outside the suite’s main door throughout”.

Bryan Raven, WL’s managing director, comments: “We are delighted to be working with Chris and supplying yet another show in the West End. We are still the leading lighting supplied in the West End, providing designers with the technology and service they expect from WL”.

First performed in 1960, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man tells the story of two presidential candidates who are both vying for an endorsement from the current President; with the play exploring the lengths they’ll go to achieve this. It stars a range of well-known names, including Martin Shaw, Maureen Lipman and Honeysuckle Weeks.