Luc Peumans and the team from Painting with Light created a lighting design and supplied media servers for the production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid staged by Marmalade Content at Flanders Expo in Ghent, Belgium.
Luc had worked in the same role on Marmalade’s 2016 Beauty and the Beast productio and was delighted to be reunited with set designer Stefan Haudenhuyse and director Frank Van Laecke, with whom he collaborated on 14-18, a Spectacular Musical. The technical director was Bart De Coensel from The Production Box.
The creative process began with a brain-storming session between Luc and the producers, Frank and Stefan, from which this basic aesthetic framework emerged and Luc started to develop the lighting concepts.
An underlining theme was to make it properly ‘spectacular’ in both impact and presence, so the audience would become fully immersed in the action. “I basically wanted to bring an ‘epic’ feel to it,” explained Luc. “This was the approach needed with a 40m-wide stage and vast upstage LED screen, all vital to setting the scene.”
Luc also wanted to ensure that there was a clear demarcation between the two worlds: above and under water. He referred to past Little Mermaid productions – including black-light production that he had lit some years back – where the underwater sections are often interpreted as dark and moody.
However, for this production he wanted the underwater scenes to be bright and magical – thriving and full of positive energy.
A network of trusses was installed into the roof of Hall 8 of the Flanders Expo event centre.
Upstage, Luc positioned 24 x Robe BMFL Spot fixtures, chosen for their power and precision, eight each rigged across three trusses, and these were used to extend the effect of the digital scenery, projecting gobos and texturing down onto the upstage scenic elements and across the stage.
The main hard-edged fixtures on the lighting plot were Martin MAC Vipers which were used for all the key lighting and specials, positioned on three different levels at the front and advanced trusses.
Thirty-six MAC Viper Performances were attached to side-stage ladders, 18 per side, where they were ideally positioned for strong cross lighting. Again, they were picked for their intensity with the substantial throw distances.
Thirty-two Viper profiles across several trusses illuminated the 3D scenic structures in front of the LED wall, styled on coral and other sea-bed rock formations.
Luc was keen to heighten the excitement by utilising ‘surface water’ lighting effects – the shimmering, piercing rays you see when actually underwater and staring up at the surface.
“They have an ephemeral, ever changing and very distinctive quality – something that is transient, fluid and fascinatingly desirable,” he described, and to achieve this look, he designed some custom lighting pods.
Each of the 14 pods contained seven URC Ledzoom 210 fixtures and four Robe Pointes, which could be used in fixed positions over the stage.
Luc lit a 40m-wide water curtain with 72 x URC Power LED strips on the downstage edge of the stage. This was a vehicle of visual trickery, bringing the shipwreck scene alive, complete with harsh strobes and thunderous sound FX.
Robe’s new RoboSpot remote follow spot system was employed to control 11 x BMFL Spots on the rig as follow spots, run via three RoboSpot base stations.
Lighting was run on a grandMA2 console programmed by Niels Huybrechts and operated by Jochen Kerkhofs for the run of shows.
Video was programmed by Mark Honsbeek and played back via one of Painting with Light’s disguise gx2 media servers, triggered by timecode from the grandMA2.
All lighting equipment was supplied by leading Belgian rental specialist, Phlippo Showlights.
Luc commented, “We all really enjoyed working on another beautifully detailed show from Marmalade, where production values were high on the agenda. There was a fantastic team in place and an excellent vibe which mirrored the enthusiasm and popularity of the production with the public.”