Theatrical Backdrop for Sydney Harbour Show
Theatre Backdrops, Curtains and Custom Fabric Solutions - Muriel’s Wedding
This project was a series of theatre backdrops, curtains and custom fabric solutions for a world touring musical show call Muriel’s wedding. The whole stage had over 15 scenic sets and all sets required a series of custom fabricated cloths to for backdrops, props and projections screens.
This show was the first in the 896 person Roslyn Packer Theatre in Sydney. The show was based on the movie Muriel’s Wedding. The multiple sets required a series of stage cloths including:
- Blue Theatre Leg curtains made with a custom blue printed fabric – seamless 9m high
- Yellow and Orange Flats custom printed to suit the design
- Several 18m wide x 9m drop flat crease- free backdrop curtains
- A Fibre-optic “Star Cloth” with a crease free hung backdrop
- A series of glitter curtains of a specialist fabric from overseas
- A series of White pre-creased pleated drapes
This project was very unique, especially for a theatre show. One of the biggest challenges on this project was fabric selection. 70% of the cloths on this stage had to be crease free when hung – providing the appearance that they were painted plywood flats that are usually used in theatre applications. The reason for doing these in fabric was to give the show the ability to tour overseas and these flats could be folded and transported by airfreight tubs. They had to be able to be folded in a special way using cardboard cores to prevent permanent creasing.
There were also specific pantone colour requirements, so we custom printed some wide format stretchy theatre fabric and they were stretched around some aluminium frames. We went through a 3 week process to get the colour right with several print tests and testing on anti-creasing methods. Then we did test builds of the 9m high frames to make sure the fabric performed well under stretch and maintained it colour integrity along with being crease free.
We also had to make a Large Star Cloth with fibre-optic lights. This backdrop was 18m x 9m and had a fibre optic system sourced from overseas. This was especially challenging given the tight timeframe to complete the job.
An incredible amount of care had to be taken with the white curtains and large 18m x 9m backdrops. These cloths were so large that it made manufacturing and handling of this material challenging to keep crease free. Theatre curtains are under massive lighting loads and small marks, stains and creases get picked up under these extreme lighting applications. We set up our factory in a way that would assist us to achieve keeping these cloths in good shape and clean. This made it challenging with other non-theatrical projects we were concurrently manufacturing, but we managed well.
Some of the cloths we made were from materials from overseas. We had to collaborate with the designer who was living in Europe and had only 2 design meetings in short notice to deliver confidence that our materials and test samples were sufficient to deliver the effect required.
The end result of all this hard work was amazing. The stage set looked vibrant, bright and sharp. Our work on the set, most of which was a variety of our fabric solutions, helped the Sydney Theatre Company win 4 of the 9 Sydney Theatre awards for 2017. The reviews for the show and set were impressive and the show has gained international attention. We are very proud of our contribution to this show and have learnt a lot along the way.