Based on the book by James Hindman and with original music by Patrick Brady, Pete ‘n’ Keely is the story of a famous musical couple, now estranged, who are persuaded into doing a TV reunion.
The current production of Pete ‘n’ Keely at London’s Tristan Bates Theatre, produced by Wallflower Theatrical, and directed by Matthew Gould, includes a colourful glitzy set. Designed by Emily Bestow, it’s reminiscent of classic 60s American TV variety shows, featuring bright colours and a kitsch style.
Tasked with designing the lighting for the show, BRIT School alumni Mitchell Reeve explains how he became involved.
“Matthew Gould and I have worked on a few productions together now. I first met him a year ago when I was asked to light ‘I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road’. As a lighting designer, it is vital to have a good relationship with the director, and to be able to know what they want without even asking. I hope to keep working with him on many more productions.”
In lighting the play, Mitchell also had to reflect the look of television lighting, even including lit signs for ‘ON AIR’ and an ‘APPLAUSE’ sign which illuminates periodically during the show and transforming the theatre audience into the fictional TV audience. Initially Mitchell approached the design by listening to the music and referring to the script.
He comments: “Pete ‘n’ Keely is meant to be a spectacle. The lighting has to be bold and full of colour. Once I got a sense of the feel of the show, I created a cue synopsis. I went through the script line by line and decided where the lighting should change based on how I wanted the audience to react at each part of the story.
“The challenging thing with lighting Pete ‘n’ Keely was that I had to dedicate a lot of time to lighting the musical numbers. That meant I ran short on time for how I would light the general “off-air” scenes. Luckily as the stage at the Tristan Bates Theatre is quite small, I was able to pull that together during the fit-up.”
To create the bold, colourful look he required, Mitchell contacted PRG’s Account Director Jon Cadbury to source the fixtures he needed. Mitchell explains: “I needed a fixture which could create bold saturated colour washes, but would also be able to isolate certain parts of the show. I decided to use four GLP Impression X4 fixtures and these enabled me to wash the stage in colour, but also gave me the opportunity to zoom in on the more delicate scenes.
Whilst the size of the studio-style venue didn’t present any challenges, Mitchell did need more dimmers than the Tristan Bates was able to provide: “Pete ‘n’ Keely is all about the troubles in their relationship and I wanted to show this by never having them share the same light source. This meant I needed to put a lot more fixtures into the design. In order to do this I needed more dimmers than the Tristan Bates had, so I requested four alpha packs from PRG. They’re a wonderful small size, allowing me to hide them in the set, which also saved on cable runs.”
Mitchell was happy to be able to rely on PRG’s expertise in theatre lighting rental, commenting: “They’re incredible. They’ve really helped me, not only on this show, but many others. They’re always there if you need advice, and if there are any issues they’re always sorted promptly.”
The hilarious tale of Pete ‘n’ Keely’s television reunion runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre from 2-20 May 2017.
Photos: The Other Richard