Cats in Korea

Posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, one of the world’s most loved musicals has toured the world constantly since it’s premiere in London’s West End in 1981. The musical has enjoyed particular success in South Korea, where local producers recently teamed up with the Really Useful Company Asia Pacific to produce an all new version of the famous show after several recent tours of the country by the world-touring English production.

Mandylights designers Richard Neville and Greg Yates came on board as associate designers to David Hersey’s original legendary design, and were given the brief to create a new interpretation of the design that would be spectacular but still remain true to original look and feel of the show. Before putting pen to paper, Richard and Greg researched the lighting designs almost every past production of the musical, even watching videos from the original 1981 London and 1985 German productions to trace the evolution of the design and find out how to successfully recreate as much of the original magic as possible. Later in the process, armed with dozens of new ideas, the pair flew to New York to meet David Hersey himself to discuss the show’s design. The final product was a design that compliments the raw sexual, circular choreography and direction of the musical, with careful programming that follows almost every musical and movement change throughout the show.

With a very short production period inside the theatre, Mandylights recreated the entire venue, set design and lighting rig in ESP Vision inside their Sydney studio, and programmed around 80% of the show offline with outstanding accuracy. Upon arriving in the Charlotte Theatre in Seoul, it only took two weeks to bump in and have all the lighting programming ready for the show.

New elements in the design include a few dozen specially made LED fittings that are built into the junkyard set which add depth and highlight different parts of the set throughout the show. The most spectacular component of the design, however, is definitely the custom truss structure that the bulk of the rig hangs from – two giant arcs of truss that encircle the Cats Light Ring and Heavyside Layer Pod – two integral pieces of automation that the musical is famous for. The circular nature of the show is seen in the choreography, direction and set design, so Richard and Greg thought it only natural to continue the theme into the lighting rigging and programming as well.

Richard and Greg both designed and programmed the show, which effectively gave the production the knowledge and enthusiasm of two designers and two programmers – an unusual bonus for the producers even for a professional production. On top of this, the staff of Mandylights back in Sydney greatly assisted with the production’s visualisation while the company as a whole negotiated directly with the equipment supplier for the tour to arrange all the specifics of the design and installation.

Richard, Greg and the rest of the Mandylights team are thrilled to continue their involvement with the Korean production team, Seol and Co. and the Really Useful Company which has already spanned several years and many productions.

The new production of Cats opened in Seoul on September 19, and will tour Korea over the next year.

Equipment List: 28 x Martin Mac2000 Profile (all with custom gobos), 26 x Vari*Lite VL2500 Wash, 3 x Martin Atomic Strobe, 164 x ETC Source 4 Profiles (varying beam angles), 72 x Par64 (varying sizes), 12 x Police Beacons, 40 x Eggstrobes, 24 x Custom Made LED Blocks, 2 x Martin QFX Fibre Units, 2 x Animation Wheels, 360m of custom made and dipped festoon looms, 32 x Coloram Scrollers, 2 x MDG Ice Fog Units, 4 x Antari Dry Ice Low Foggers, 4 x Antari Haze Machines

Control: 1 x GrandMA Full Size Console, 1 x GrandMA Light (backup), 2 x GrandMA NSP