To celebrate five years since the formation of The Aloud Charity - www.thealoudcharity.com - which comprises Only Men Aloud, Only Boys Aloud, and Only Kids Aloud, a one-off concert - Aloud @ 5 - was staged at the Wales Millennium Centre in late 2015.
The charity offers free choral tuition and membership for young people from deprived backgrounds, and the chance to perform in some of the world’s largest productions. These have included Britain's Got Talent, The X Factor, and the Queen's Jubilee Concert.
With a total cast of around 350 singers, the sold-out show was recorded by Orchard Entertainment for broadcast on Welsh language channel S4C on Christmas Day.
Founder of the Aloud choirs is Artistic and Musical Director Tim Rhys Evans, and together with Broadway and West End Creative Director, Jonathan Butteral, and Production Designer, David Marson, he created the concept for the anniversary show.
Lighting Designer, Steffan Jones, was brought in to fulfil the lighting portion of the production design. He explains: “We initially received a written treatment from Tim Rhys Evans, which was then followed by discussions in a number of production meetings. The brief for this particular production was simply to look and feel ‘warm and beautiful’.
“The Wales Millennium Centre is a very large theatrical space with a large roof to fill. I knew that this was going to be a very diverse show, with over 30 big musical numbers, and I needed to find a way to achieve versatility and an array of different looks through lighting, with a minimal and static set.
“The production design was quite simple, due to the amount of artists which needed to fit on the stage at one time. It featured a half circle rostrum in an array of heights, a large downstage circular gloss black floor and a large 22m x 9m rear projected screen.”
To achieve the desired look for the show, Jones opted for tungsten wash lamps across the whole rig: “I chose the VL5 Tungsten lamp as the main fixture as I believe there is no other product on the marketplace like them which can deliver the diverse range of colours, warmth, and that ‘trademark VL5 lens look’ which is always pretty to look at on camera. PRG XL Video provided 40 of their VL5 fixtures, 10 of which were chrome - for head height eye candy.”
Jones continues: “All the fixtures in the air were rigged on the theatre’s own fly bars. For each number I staggered and arranged the fly bars in various configurations and heights - which was a very quick and easy way to achieve different looks. For example for some of the Only Men Aloud numbers, I flew in a couple of VL5 bars to just above head height to create some interest behind the 8 men.”
Key lighting was done using two Robert Juliat HMI follow-spots, six VL1000 Ark’s placed at front of house, and an array of Source Four fixtures including 10 degrees, 19 degrees, and zooms.
The VL5 rig was supplemented by fifteen High End 1500 LED Spots, which were used for both backlights and colour/gobo effects. An additional eight High End LED CMY spots were deployed on the floor to create interest and a textured background behind the rostra, and new High End Shapeshifters were flown and on the floor creating eye candy and colour effects. Finally, ten MAC 101 fixtures also provided some additional colour from the roof, rigged in two fingers.
Steffan’s console operator was Nick Hansen, who programmed both moving lights and generics on a GrandMA. As there was only one full day of rehearsals at the Wales Millennium Centre, Hansen using WYSIWYG visualisation offsite prior to the show for pre-programming.
Lighting crew boss was Nick Sprud, who led a team of 4, during the rigging and de-rig process at the venue.
Jones has the final word: “PRG XL Video are a relatively new supplier to me. They are a dream to work with as a lighting supplier. Jon Cadbury and his team had a very helpful approach, were easy to work with, and pulled out all the stops to deliver whatever was required on time and on budget!”
L-R Steffan Jones, Nick Hansen, Andy Cottey. Photo: Rodney George.