Swan Lake Neon Sign

Swan Lake: Phone Call to Curtain Call in 24hrs

We love a challenge here at Carousel Lights, and when the production team for Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake asked us to help out, we rose to the challenge! We thought it’s an interesting story to share, so here’s how Carousel Lights helped make sure it was indeed, alright on the night.

Tuesday Morning, 30th April
We receive a phone call from the production team who are setting up for the opening night of Swan Lake at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking. The show opens tomorrow night and a key neon light is broken. Eeeeek! The show has a pink neon “Bar” sign that hangs in front of bar optics during an important scene. They asked that although it’s a long shot, would we be able to pick it up, fix it, and return it back to the theatre in time for opening, approximately 40 hours later.

Tuesday Lunchtime, 30th April
We head to the theatre to pick up the broken neon light and have a chat with the technical team to explain what exactly we’ll do with it.

Tuesday Afternoon, 30th April
The neon “Bar” sign is brought straight into the workshop for inspection. It’s apparent that the neon has been remade before as the glass isn’t sitting properly on the neon supports, and the 3 letters, all made from different sections of glass, are slightly different shades of pink. The glass is 12mm which we have in stock.

In order to ensure we match the pink as closely as possible (as different batches of the same colour still have different variations of shade), the broken “r” letter is held under UV light, alongside which we hold the glass that will be used to make the replacement letter – this means that the new colour is matched as closely as possible to the broken colour.

With no template to bend the “r” to the correct shape, the glass is heated over the open flame and the glass is then bent to match the contour of the mount to which it will be attached. Once the glass is bent, the electrodes are put on and it’s pumped with gas.

The two electrodes on the neon are then painted with black blackout paint and left to dry. Whilst this is drying we decide to adjust the glass and mounts on the letters that aren’t broken, as these are all out of alignment and this will reduce the chances of these sections of neon glass from breaking during the rest of the production.

Weds Morning, 1st May – OPENING NIGHT!
The Neon BAR Sign is on test in the workshop and all looking good. We arrange with the Swan Lake production team to bring it back just after lunch so that we can just leave it on test a couple of hours longer.

Weds Lunchtime, 1st May
The neon Bar sign is delivered back to Stage Door. The technical team are there waiting for us so we turn it on and explain that we’ve re-made the broken neon section, pumped it with gas, replaced the electrodes and realigned the rest of the neon to reduce the chances of it breaking. They’re over the moon with what we were able to achieve so we’re feeling really proud.

Weds, 1st May – 7.30pm CURTAIN UP
The show must go on – and it did! The ‘Bar’ neon was proudly flying above the Swan Lake stage with the audience having no idea that under the water, the legs were kicking like crazy to make sure everything looked effortless!


20th July 2018
Case Study: Architectural Neon Signage
14th June 2019
Can we make complex logos in neon? Of course!
Written by:

Ben is Co-Founder of Carousel Lights and multi award-winning businessman. He graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Engineering and then subsequently worked in senior roles for British Airways and the BBC.

Call Now Button
You dont have permission to register