Non-dress rehearsal for an amateur theatre production at the Princess Theatre, Torquay.

It is SO incredibly wonderful to be out photographing the things I couldn’t shoot throughout the lockdown. It is also SO nice to be meeting up with familiar faces again. Theatre work is a love and a passion so it was exciting to be able to get my camera gear ready for some rehearsal photography.

TOPS Musical productions performed a ‘one night only’ production called ‘West End Showtime’ at the Princess Theatre in Torquay, Devon.

This show included some smash-hit musicals such as Beauty & the Beast, Annie, Hairspray, Cats, and the show that never was; Chicago. These are just some of the musicals for this production. I was asked to come in as their Theatre photographer to capture one of their non-dress rehearsals before the big show.

Let’s have a look at some of the photos from the rehearsal:

Their smiles were happening as much as my smiles. It was lovely to see so many of the cast again.

It’s hard work for the cast but the banter and atmosphere is what makes it so pleasurable for all involved. If you ever wanted to get involved with an amateur theatre production, the people at TOPS Musical Productions are all lovely!

I delivered the photos the same evening. It’s important for Theatre photography work to deliver as soon as possible. I always aim to deliver the same day or the following day at the latest.

The venue was the community hall at St Martins church in Barton, Torquay. A really clean, warm and nice venue for Theatre rehearsals. Just a couple of issues for photographers, which I’ll talk about next.

Photography Details

It’s a fact of life now that I come across banding, flickering and white balance issues more and more. This venue was no exception. If I shot to capture the action (1/500 or faster), I’d have a number of photos with the top half of the photo having a deep yellow colour cast, and the lower half with the correct white balance.

At around 1/50 I could remove the flickering and white balance issues. The problem is with action shots I needed to capture the movement. The only way I could achieve what I wanted was with the use of my own lighting. I had a 3 light setup to get the results you see above.

I always bring my own lighting with me. Most of the time it was absolutely the right call!

Always take some test shots at various shutter speeds at any venue. It is rarely wasted time!

Space was a very limiting factor here. The cast was often at arm’s length from where I was shooting. I didn’t want the distortion of a very wide lens so I opted for my 24mm F1.4 on one camera and the 85mm F1.4 on my other camera.

Simon Day

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