Matthew Bourne's Cinderella wouldn't be possible without the work of our company on and off stage. Here you will find profiles on some of our backstage team who ensure each performance is delivered technically clean day in, day out (as well as some fun facts!)
Role: Chief Electrician
Training: On the job.
A key bit of advice for someone looking to get into this role: Show your abilities by getting on and doing the task at hand without making a song and dance about it. It will get noticed. If you don't know something, ask.
Are there any fun facts about the show that relate to your role and what you do? We have a little over 16 tons of lighting equipment on this show and there are 612 lighting positions to recreate each week.
Sam Baker (Chief Electrician), Liam Walls (Flyman/Deputy Carpenter) & Harriet Finch (Technical Swing) on set
Role: Deputy Carpenter & Flyman
Main Responsibilities: Packing up the set and moving the show from venue to venue, and during the show, with the help of the local fly crew, make scenery fly!
A key bit of advice for someone looking to get into this role: Work hard, don't be afraid to ask questions (no question is a silly one when you are hanging half a ton of scenery in the air) and remember to have pride in your work and the final product.
Are there any fun facts about the show that relate to your role and what you do? Over the course of the show there are four flyman, pulling 28 different ropes, with 31 different cues!
Role: Tech Swing
Main Responsibilities: To teach the stage electricians on the first day followed by covering days off/illness/emergency cover across all departments. Once a week Harriet gets to operate the sound desk and assist with the get out.
Training: Studied Drama & Theatre at the University of Kent and completed a year internship at The Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury
A key bit of advice for someone looking to get into this role: Talk to and learn from people already in the industry, have a good attitude to work and love what you do.
Are there any fun facts about the show that relate to your role and what you do? As tech swing Harriet covers lots of roles within the company. She currently knows 6 plots and will hopefully learn more over the course of the tour.
Role: Sound Technician & Operator
Training: Bristol Old Vic Theatre School (BA Hons in Professional Stage Management and Technical Theatre)
A key bit of advice for someone looking to get into this role: You have to love theatre and be passionate about the job you do. It's long hours, very demanding and is more of a lifestyle than a job. Matthew spends a lot of time away form home and working in the evenings and weekends when the rest of the world is off so you have to be prepared to sacrifice things. The pay off however is well worth the sacrifice, but it's not for everyone.
Are there any fun facts about the show that relate to your role and what you do? The music in the show is specially recorded by a 60 piece orchestra and played back in Surround Sound. We have over 75 Speakers, that we tour to each theatre, onstage, either side of the stage and around the auditorium so the audiences become immersed in the sound.
Matthew has operated over 120 shows so far and still finds pieces in the music that he's never heard before. Prokofiev was a genius!
Some obscure sounds are used in the explosion sequences such as ice breaking up and balloons popping.
Role: Deputy Electrician & Projection
John’s role has evolved from working on the lighting equipment for New Adventures’ productions to also overseeing the use of projection, as our shows have grown to use video and projecting light more and more. On Cinderella alone, since the 2010/11 tour, the number of projectors used has grown from one to four. Connecting the four projectors to the stage and all of the other equipment that it needs to ‘talk to’ is half a kilometre of fibre optic cabling.
During the get-in at each venue John has to line up each projection so that it’s perfectly aligned with where it needs to be on stage, this is checked at each theatre as the projectors may be in a different place or the distance to the stage/size of the stage may be smaller or bigger. Projection in this context doesn’t just mean the Pathé news reels you see at the beginning of act one and three it’s also a total of 73 cues, including the flames in the fire place in Cinderella’s home and lighting up the Paddington Station sign at the end of the show. Did you know at the beginning of act three, when it’s raining in London, if you look closely you’ll see little droplets falling down the window panes on the set at the back of the stage – this is projection! A lot of projection is also used to highlight designs on the cloths flown in during particular scenes. For example the St Pauls’ sky line that you see is on the cloth but a second image of this is projected over the top to give the movement of the smoke and planes.
Training: John holds a degree in music technology but wanted to work in the theatre so spent three months as a casual technician at Birmingham Hippodrome before working on the musical Wicked. Much of his training is on the job!
Advice: John says get yourself into a venue, have a good attitude and you will soar. For those looking to switch careers into working backstage, don’t be scared, if you’ve got a willingness to learn and perseverance you will be fine.