One of the most impressive (as well as most difficult) special effects to be done onstage is flight. Broadway equips themselves with highly skilled engineering teams to create impressive technical illusions that leave audiences wondering, “How did they do that?”
Without Broadway’s secrets of hidden wires and harnesses, how can theatres of all sizes deliver the same magical and effortless effect of flight?
Hiring a standard rigging system, and getting insurance for the safety of your actors can cost thousands of dollars. Due to a lack of funds or another dependable solution, schools can become discouraged from producing certain titles that include flying. That’s why we're is here to lend a helping hand and offer worry-free solutions through Scenic Projections.
Here are a few of our favorite animated flight sequences and suggested staging that you can use for your productions:
Disney’s Aladdin JR: Scene 8 - Magic Carpet Ride
(ALADDIN helps JASMINE onto the magic carpet, which flies into the night sky)
In this scene, Aladdin and Jasmine begin on the Palace Balcony and with the press of a cue, fly over Agrabah, travel amongst the clouds, and then through the city back to the Palace. You can have the magic carpet set center stage on the floor with your actors seated on top. The scenery behind them moves backward, and the audience experiences the illusion that the actors are flying forward and upward.
*You could also use one of your three wishes to construct a small raked platform, with the top angled upwards, away from the apron. Then, cover the base with black fabric, and have your actors sit on the magic carpet laid over the top of the platform. This gives your actors extra height off of the ground so they appear as if they are flying in the middle of the traveling scenery behind them. Explore >
Disney’s Mary Poppins: Act 1 Scene 1 - Mary Poppins’ Arrival
(MARY POPPINS soars over the London rooftops and through the sunrise)
Press cue and Mary Poppins is flying across your stage with her parrot-handled umbrella in hand. As the scene in the Parlor ends, the actors can clear the stage and begin preparing for the following scene, while the projection of Mary begins to play. The audience watches Mary’s silhouette fly in and your actress playing Mary can await her cue backstage. Eliminating the need for a blackout or difficulty getting Mary out of a harness, she’s ready to walk onstage at the proper cue line.
*Our Mary Poppins Scenic Projections are practically perfect in every way, that they’ve even been used in a Disneyland production of Mary Poppins! Explore >
Peter Pan (1954 Broadway Version): Act 1 Scene 2 - Flight to Neverland
(PETER flies out the nursery window followed by the children. The nursery disappears and the night sky is exposed.)
With faith, trust and a little projection magic, Peter and the children escape out of the Nursery window, past Big Ben, and onto the second star to the right. Tinkerbell bursts through the Nursery window, opening it for the children and Peter to fly out of. As the scenery begins to move forward and the window becomes larger, this gives the illusion that the actors are flying out of it. Your actors can turn upstage and “fly” through the window until the window has disappeared. Then your actors can face the audience and through movement, physically express that they are in the air. The scenery behind them moves backward and downward and the audience follows their graceful journey from location to location. Explore >
The team at Broadway Media sat down with Aaron Rhyne, one of the world’s preeminent theatrical projection designers, to learn more about his A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder designs, and get some tips on what good design is all about.
In the first two months of 2019, Green Valley High School, Performing Arts Department in Nevada, piloted Broadway Media’s Scenic Projections for Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin.
Theatrical titles from Disney are a great way to introduce your students to theatre using characters and stories with which they are undoubtedly familiar. Combine them with a 60-minute or 30-minute Broadway Junior runtime and you’ve got yourself a show that’s easy to teach and fun for your kids to learn and perform!