Priscilla Rides into Town
One of the most colourful and uplifting shows to hit the West End, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, opened recently at the Palace Theatre in London and we have provided all of the show automation and scenery, including Priscilla, the technically challenging star of the show.
We worked with the show’s producers for over a year to deliver both the scenic and automation elements. Drawing on our expertise gained over many years across the live event industry, we were able to take the technical elements of the show to great heights.
Priscilla, the heroine of the title, is a nine tonne fully self-contained bus. We built Priscilla from scratch, to suit the requirements of both the show and the stage, which was specially strengthened to enable it to take her full weight. A unique drive wheel system was built to facilitate the realistic movements of the bus, allowing her to be driven around the stage completely independently.
Priscilla is programmed to deliver 40 major movements during the course of the show, along with many other smaller movements, including those of the mirrors, the garage style door, which opens up to reveal the fabulously over the-top and exotic interior fit-out, and the three man-lifts that were also incorporated within. These movements were mostly programmed as animation off site to free up the technical rehearsals and then fed as macros into the control computers.
Around 40,000 individual pixels were painstakingly embedded into the surface of Priscilla, allowing a myriad of lighting effects to be achieved including the dramatic transformation of the bus from dull grey to bright pink.
Our team of specialist engineers designed and programmed all of the show Automation, including the movement of the bus (outlined above) and the performer flying. An auto flying truss was erected to carry three flying tracks and we also provided three stock winches on three counterweight sets to assist the theatre’s own counterweight system. Built within the stage, we also provided a 10m doughnut revolve and two chain driven scissor lifts. All of the automation was operated by our renowned motion control system, Qmotion.
Scenic elements built by ourselves include a full proscenium, four smaller portals positioned at intervals upstage and embedded with LED flex, and a flown steel framed replica of Sydney Harbour Bridge, resplendent in a variety of lighting. We also built the sets for the Alice Casino, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Broken Hill pub, Woop Woop Hotel and the glamorous Les Girls, consisting of a flown, candy-pink, full height, double staircase, complete with columns and embellished with glitter and fairy lights.
Finally, our scenic interpretation department took charge of the major scenic props, constructing a pool table, oil drum seating and three flying eucalyptus trees, along with several enormous, theatrical shoes. These included: a 2m shoe encrusted with over 2,000 crystals and a 3.5m shoe with a solid silver glitter paint finish, LED’s and in-built stairs. This was designed to line up with the bus, allowing the actors to descend from the roof for the grand finale.