Industry Talks is a new musical theatre podcast focusing on the industry professionals that play a pivotal part in getting a musical from page to stage.

On this week’s episode, we speak to Lighting Designer Ben Cracknell.

We speak about where his passion for musical theatre began and completing his school work experience at the Drury Lane Theatre while Miss Saigon was performing. Ben speaks about his passion for pantomime and we learn more about what goes into the process of lighting a show.

We speak about a variety of West End shows including Dancing in the Streets and Mel Brook’s The Young Frankenstein. 

Listen to the episode below or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Show notes:

0:00 – 8:27 –  Where did it all begin? We speak about Ben’s early passion for musical theatre and about his work experience on Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Ben tells us about how an early inspiring teacher helped mentor him to pursue a career in theatre.

8:28 – 15:13 – We learn more about Ben’s first few jobs including being a theatre technician at the Cliffs Pavilion in South End. Ben also tells us how he approaches lighting design, including his involvement throughout the rehearsal period. He tells us about the benefits of being involved with a show from the beginning and how collaborating with a set and costume designer at the beginning can transform and enhance an audience’s experience.

15:14 – 22:59 – After training at Rose Bruford College, Ben tell us about his first professional job which was lighting designing Aladdin at the Bournemouth Pavilion. Since Aladdin, he has worked on over 60 pantomimes for Qudos Entertainment including the London Palladium. He tells us more about working on last year’s Palladium panto – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with Julian Clary and Dawn French.

22:30 – 30:29 –  Ben tells us about working with Keith Strachan on both plays and a musical including Dancing in the Streets. He also speaks about The Who’s – Tommy produced by Bill Kenwright with Rachel Tucker. We learn more about the process of lighting a show and how Ben works with a lighting programmer. Ben also tells how the subtext of a show and the score can also affect his design.

30:30 – 36:59 – We speak about Bens design for Mel Brook’s The Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre, he takes us through the lighting transition from the lab down to the dungeon. We learn how Ben maintained the suspension of disbelieve during this scene transition. We also learn what show he had found most challenging but also quite rewarding.

37:00 – 41:55 Ben tells us what show he would love to work on and we also learn what advice he has for people who would like to become lighting designers.


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