Arvid Müller’s Charles Tante, the perennial favourite classic Danish comedy film based on the 1892 play Charley’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas, has been reborn as a brand new stage musical by Mads Æbeløe Nielsen, Nikolaj Tarp, Claus Reenberg and Rob Hartmann.

Set in the year 1900 and performed in the classic environs of Denmark’s Fredericia Musicalteater, the production ran from 15 September to 15 October 2023, under Per Toft Lehmann’s skilfully designed lighting, which blended the subject matter and its location perfectly.

Incorporated into Lehmann’s rig were 20 Ayrton Diablo S profiles chosen for their versatility and compact dimensions.

“The Fredericia Musicalteater is a classic, old-school venue with fly bars, red curtains and traditional seating and facilities, so we had to be careful in our choice of fixtures,” he explains. “We spent a great deal of time looking for the perfect spotlight for this design and production: something light and compact enough to hang on fly bars, but also quiet enough not to interfere with the all-important dialogue, or interrupt the musical numbers with fan noise. The final choice was easy in the end because Diablo S had all the features we needed.”

16 Diablo were rigged on four over stage lighting bars for use throughout the whole show as spots and as supplementary wash lights. From here, Lehmann was able to make full use of the Diablo’s framing and gobo features: “Diablo’s framing system was one of its most valuable features. It is a perfect instrument for hot spotting elements, highlighting some of the set details like pictures, windows and plants, and for creating small spaces, such as a train carriage.

The gobo sets were well used also: we used the Infinite Stairs gobo with frost and a nice off focus to light outdoor park scenes and to project through openings in the set. There was also a chaotic outdoor chase sequence in the park where we use the Nest Rings Yellow gobo blended with a little green, rotating at high speed, to bring to life a perfectly timed and orchestrated scene of chaos and chase, without affecting the fine appearance of the set.”

Another 4 Diablo S profiles were rigged on two lighting bars above the audience and used as front light. “This musical had a lot of scenes that took place in an outdoor park environment, with a lot of bushes made of green leaves. Diablo S was a perfect weapon to make these bushes come to life, using the graphic animation wheel with a slow rotation on the vegetation as a highly effective way of emulating a real park. We added a nice outdoor atmosphere with the CTO colour in the lamp. The result was perfect!”

Lehmann was very impressed with both the performance and the reliability of Diablo for a number of reasons: “Diablo is the perfect balance between the physical size and great output. The fixture was a perfect match for this venue, and were very impressed with its stability.

“We did over 20 shows, plus the whole production and design process, during which time not one of the Diablos failed, in any respect. That is really important because you really start to rely on and trust that stability. It gives you the freedom to use the fixture in very precarious situations, where the only lighting on the stage is based on one or two of the Diablos. That stability is something that I will consider next time I’m in the design process.

“In my opinion, the very low noise level makes Diablo a special fixture that is perfectly suited for theatre and musicals. The output is brilliant, taking its size into count, and the stability is amazing, and really something I, as both designer and technician on this production, really appreciate. It more than lived up to my expectations and I won’t hesitate to pick Diablos S as my leading spot on future productions.”

Text: Julie Harper
Production photos: © Søren Malmose
Set photos: © Per Toft Lehmann

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