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WRandall
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I'm trying to imagine how BA plays a part in a projected flying helicopter... and I can't! Which makes me wanna see Miss Saigon on tour again. I saw the original helicopter effect in Boston back in the early-mid-90's and I was sort of unfazed by it. (maybe I didn't have the best seats) But the current effect sounds like a more imaginative, less literal way to do it - as well as being more practical to tour with. I always liked the Javert Jump in Les Miz, too. Simple, beautiful, and effective.

Hey ya'll, here's a link to an article about the "Chitty" car. They actually hint at a method, the b******s...

http://www.nypost.com/seven/04212005/entertainment/23294.htm
IllusionJack
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Well I have to say that since I'm one of the tour managers for the current tour of MISS SAIGON, I am a little bit biased, but I can say this--

The rights to perform the show were released by Cameron Mackintosh, the original producer, to the company producing the current tour (Big League Theatricals). Many of the original creative staff, including directors and designers, were brought on board for this tour, and continue to visit the production to maintain the production quality. Many of the cast members are even back, after having been on board for the 1st and/or 2nd national US tours, and other, international productions of Cameron's original show.

To address Paul Arthur's comment regarding the non-Equity status of the show... this has been a point of controversy in the theatrical community, as is the non-Equity status of numerous other current touring productions. Mr. Arthur mentioned that the non-Equity status created the smaller budget of the show. This is close, but not accurate -- rather, the smaller budget of the show created the non-Equity status. The smaller budget of course also determined the smaller set design, the use of a virtual orchestra and fewer live players, a smaller cast, etc.

However, the only reason that Mackintosh decided to continue to license a major production of MISS SAIGON to tour was to bring this production to smaller markets that would never have been able to see the show otherwise, and to bring a newly conceived version of the show to certain major markets.

The non-Equity status of the actors has little to no bearing on the quality of the production, and the actors in the current tour are just as talented as many that you would see in Equity productions. The production is run using most, if not all of the same parameters that are used to govern an Equity tour, with the obvious exceptions of actors' pay and benefits, which is, we'll all agree, unfortunate.

Luckily, Actor's Equity has recently approved an EXPERIMENTAL TOURING PROGRAM which allows vastly smaller pay scales and benefits packages for performers, based on the revenue of a touring production, which was designed to encourage smaller production companies mounting major brand-name shows to subscribe to the Equity production contract for their performers. It is my hope that the production companies will jump on board with this, not because the production quality will go up, but rather because more money and benefits is always better for any worker.

Now that you have all received a lesson in current theatrical economics, back to the helicopter...

The effect is acheived using a large, full stage size rear projection screen, with a powerful video projector mounted several feet behind it. Both the projector and the screen are hidden from view using black art. At the appropriate time during the show, the screen is flown in and the projector un-masked... and abracadabra, the helicopter appears.

The chopper itself is a 3-D animation of a whirlybird that comes in, turns around, and lands. After the actors "board" the helicopter, it flys away again. The 3-D model, combined with the apparent absence of any screen, plus wind effects, strobe lights, and sound effects, are quite effective. Not perfect, but effective indeed.

Cameron Mackintosh is extremely happy with this modified production of this classic show, and produces the current UK tour of the same. The set design and helicopter design are identical to the US tour, and Cameron has said that if the video projection technology had been available in 1988 when MISS SAIGON was originally designed, he would have used it instead of the cockpit set piece.

I'm glad I have been fortunate enough to see both conceptions of the idea!!

Long enough?

--Jack Smileepsi
WRandall
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NYC, USA
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Jack, you are the man. Thanks for the backstage view of the politics and the production of MS.
Jazz
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Mexico City
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I was very impressed when I saw B&B for the first time. Three times since. The transformation is pretty cool. However remember it is a Play and not a Magic Show. So in general the illusion is very well presented. Also you have to remember in Plays there is no so much attention paid to angles, and lightning as in a Magic Show. Well, not in the same degree. Not to say that they don´t think of it. All in all, for laypeople was even more awesome!
IllusionJack
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Going back to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...

I saw it last week and I thought it was just cool. The flying car was awesome. Very smooth, the method was invisible. It was really cool and the audience was just amazed by it! I also enjoyed the use of other simpler effects in the show like when they take a drive to the beach in the car... and the use of miniatures in the show.

--Jack Smile
cfrye
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Portland, Oregon, USA
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Quote:
On 2005-04-13 14:56, WRandall wrote:
Yeah, it's playing at the Hilton theatre, which is a Broadway theatre on 42nd Street. To be honest, I made a mistake and thought "Chitty" was the show Jim Steinmeyer had designed F/X for, but once I got there I realized I was confusing the show w/ Mary Poppins, which hasn't gotten to Broadway from London yet.


I saw Mary Poppins in London on July 16 (if you didn't notice the gap between the time I typed "July" and "16", I had to ask my wife for the exact date) and the illusions were very good. Specifically, the magic carpet bag looked great and Mary's ride up the bannister was smooth. The director used the actors to "prove" the illusions in inventive and natural ways.

On the non-magical front, Mary and Bert's wire work was excellent, but the Chimney Sweeps' production dance number near the end of Act 2 was disappointingly ordinary. We'd seen Billy Elliott the previous week and it set quite a high standard.
WRandall
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It's good to hear that about the Mary Poppins effects. Looking forward to checking it out. Thanks for the review. - Will
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