UK – WI has supplied staging, elevators and extensive automation elements to the Take That ‘Wonderland’ tour which kicked off at the Genting Arena, Birmingham.
The lively, colourful carnivalesque aesthetic is the vision of the band’s creative director Kim Gavin and the result of some serious creative and technical talents who have collaborated to bring action packed drama to a strong, highly entertaining performance by the band.
The WI team was led by Hans Willems and Koen Peeters and the company was asked on-board by production manager Chris Vaughan. They worked closely with production designer Ray Winkler for Stufish, scenic designer Misty Buckley, lighting designer Tim Routledge and video designer Alex Leinster to specify and construct the numerous custom elements.
To deal with the complex and rigorous health and safety aspects of the project WI brought in Cristiano Giavedoni of Blumano as the dedicated safety manager.
WI designed and built the 20m diameter circular stage for the in-the-round show from scratch. It is the first time the band has embraced this particular performance concept, which allows them to get close to their fans – and is wowing the crowds.
It is also the first time that WI has developed this specific circular staging system. As with all their constructions, it is designed for touring – to be built and de-rigged quickly and straightforwardly, and travelled expediently in a series of dollies which pack logically into the truck.
The understage space is optimised to provide quick-change facilities as well as technical areas.
In the middle of the stage is a large – 9.5 x 6m– stage elevator which is used in various positions during a number of songs and lifts to 4.1 metres above stage level (itself 1.9m off the ground) to the delight of the audience.
At its busiest, the elevator accommodates the three members of Take That – Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen – plus 12 dancers.
It has a lifting capacity of 10 tonnes and is based on four of WI’s TP6 lifts which were developed for large spectaculars. It forms part of a TT logo shape within the stage when in the down position, and also contains an LED floor. It is dubbed the ‘TT’ elevator by production.
The TT elevator, roll-drop screens and the flying carpet are all controlled by the Vector console at FOH operated by Ross Maynard, who has over 160 cues in the show. A WI team of five is looking after all the automation and staging on the road, crew chiefed by Brecht Moreels.
Koen and Hans originally started work on the project in December last year, “It’s an extremely complex and ambitious show that has evolved over that time and in the process entailed a real collaboration between all the departments and disciplines. The teamwork has been incredible, everyone has been a pleasure to work with and it’s also been one of the most rewarding tours we have worked on to date,” says Koen.
Hans adds, “We are very proud to be working with Chris, Kim and such a highly-regarded team and to be a part of delivering such an amazing show which is being so well received.”
(Jim Evans)

[Picture: LSI Online/Kris Goodman]