They are the visionary's who turn dreams into reality on stages across the land. Total MK talks with Twins FX, the clever folks giving added 'wow factor' to Milton Keynes Theatre's production of Cinderella...
Everyone talks about the magic of pantomime. How easy is it to add magic to something already so special?
It’s a long process from design, build and then make the magic happen The Twins FX is led by identical twins Gary and Paul Hardy-Brown, located in Wareham in Dorset.
“Coming into work is never boring or a chore because we genuinely love what we do,” says managing director Gary.
"We have a core team of eight staff but at our busiest, there are as many as 30 model makers, painters and engineers working away in their workshops, like a crack team of seasonal elves."
The current production of Cinderella in MK has really upped the special effects - what part are you most proud of?
"The Flying coach is one of our favourites. Audiences are surprised to see that Cinderella travel arrangements have been upgraded, to a new, spellbinding coach. Cinderella and her coach hovers on stage, then flies out into the theatre at MK over the amazed auditorium. The coach flies without wires or visible support. It’s amazing."
How easy is it executing a new effect - just how much work goes into the planning and creating of something?
"It’s about an eight month proces from planning, the build, and making the effect i.e. the coach…. It takes eight people to make the coach fly on stage."
How many ideas come directly from you guys, and how many are ideas that are brought to you for you to create?
"It's about 50% - 50% We have a big meeting in London with Michael Harrison, Nick Thomas and Mark Sherwood from Qdos Entertainments and all our ideas are put into a big melting pot. Then we discuss the locations, venues, shows and performers and shortlist the best of the ideas and that’s the magic started.
"We normally draw up around 130 new ideas per year."
What is the trickiest special effect you've worked on, and the one you are most proud of?
"We have pioneered flying in recent years with the bespoke system 'Flying without wires'; the audience sees a person or an object move around the stage and then the auditorium with no visible means of support”.
"We are a one stop shop and we do everything ourselves: designing, creating/building and delivering the wow factor. Our slogan is, we make the impossible…….. possible.
"We started out as holiday season Bluecoats, delivering captivating magic and illusion shows as part of Pontins’ entertainment program, the twins worked this up into a slick double act which then proceeded to tour around the world for 15 years, becoming bigger and more ambitious as the years went by.
"In 2004, The Twins were commissioned to create Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother to fly over an audience, which steered them towards special effects and away from performing."
Things must go wrong - have there been any particularly funny mishaps that you would care to share?
"Everything is rehearsed so meticulously thankfully we haven’t had anything that would be classed as going wrong but we have had a few moments where we have had a split second to spare before the curtain goes up."
How many pantomimes are The Twins FX involved in this year?
"We have effects big or small in all Qdos Pantomimes this year. 2017 is an extra special year for The Twins FX – they are celebrating 10 years working on ground-breaking effects for Qdos Pantomimes."
What spurs you on?
"It’s the audience reaction, the true amazement, the wonderment.
"Also it’s great to hear the performers that fly on the effects say how they have seen the kids and adult faces all looking and going wow when they see the effect come at them from off the stage flying over their heads. That’s the magical moments. When that stops that’s when we stop."
And finally, for those yet to go, tell us what makes Cinderella in Milton Keynes such a panto-tastic production
"The combination of tradition in the pantomime, the new effects and great performers. Brian “it’s a puppet” is a great comedian we love working with him and he makes it all look so easy.
"Gok is a joy and it’s a pleasure working with him and our Cinderella Lauren is just stunning. Qdos are great producers of pantomime, and together we all make a great team."
To book your seat for a performance of Cinderella click here
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