|I started on ‘Song & Dance' at the Palace Theatre
Shaftsbury Avenue in 1982 as a production lighting electrician for
Designer David Hersey. ( Complementary lighting Gobo)
The set was a large series of screens with various and changing
projected Picture slides on them creating wonderful background views of
New York and LA for the 'Song' part ( taken from a photographic
artist's book which I couldn't
then afford to buy and which I can't now remember the title of.)
And there were fast changing stills of the dancers for the Dance part
An Apple II computer arrived which was going to control and harmonise
the complex array of projectors and images along with a large
As rehearsals progressed David and the Director John Caird wanted to
try out different images, cross fades, timings and also to see the
equipment working but it just sat there on a trolley in the corner.
Nobody arrived or it seemed was available to set it all up.
Having worked for several
years with sound consoles and lighting boards the Apple II seemed to me
to be just
another control system, an unusual and unfamiliar one, but hey? how
could it be?
I picked up the manual and began
I hauled up the projectors, loaded up the slide trays and laboriously typed the code into the Apple II computer
my plunk plonk one finger typing which appropriately complemented the
of my thinking.
Now at least though we could put the
up for rehearsal and lighting.
Gradually I learnt how it all worked and could do more and more with
the computer system.
It was fun watching the magic happen and to see the show as a whole
I changed and retyped the code more and more as the show developed and
Even my typing improved, but come opening
I was still sat in the prompt corner typing in and altering the code
the final version of the show.
20 minutes after the curtain should have gone up I was still typing in
the code accompanied by the shuffles and coughs of the restless
I daren't look across the Stage to the Orchestra and the Cast but
hunkered down to the task in hand.
The front of house manager popped through the auditorium door, ‘another
Then I noticed the drumming fingers on the back of my chair had stopped
and I heard Andrew's (Lloyed Webber) calm voice beside me say, 'an
Obviously noticing I was using an Apple Computer. He then anecdoted
that he'd been out walking one day when he had met a friend who had
stock might be a good investment for him.
Andrew had apparently though forgotten this suggestion and so unfortunately didn't
make the investment he'd planned, only later to discover that an
opportunity for a £100,000 windfall had passed through and
slipped his mind.
The code was in and it all ran without the dastardly 'syntax error.'
The show went up and came down to rapturous applause and I stood in the
wings with my long time friend Bob West as he quietly said, 'I think we've got a
I was kept on 'Song & Dance' as an ASM as I understood the Apple II
and Projection System.
It was a great show with lovely people and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Meeting lyricist Don Black was a highlight for me.
The rumor was that he had actually supplied some extra additional
lyrics written on the mythical, 'back of a piece of a cigarette
packet'. Isn't that a lovely thought.