Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What is an aged lighting designer doing with Elizabeth Taylor on his web-site? Well, she was a truly great lady, and I was privileged to work with her once in London. But she was more than a great star.

Here’s the story - an extract from my up-coming new book A THEATRE PROJECT to be published by Plasa Media in June 2011.


“Elizabeth Taylor was to star in this production at the Victoria Palace. Expectation was high, and so was my tension level. I was under strict instructions from Zeff Buffman, the producer, that Miss Taylor had to be treated with the softest of all kid gloves. She had to look ravishingly beautiful and young. I was warned that she could be a demon . . . and my head was on the block. 

The production, directed by Austin Pendleton, and designed by Howard Bay, had originated in the USA, but such was Miss Taylor''s sensitivity, that it had to be relit by "the best" in London . . . and that, they thought, was me. I was a bundle of nerves.

I lit, and the American company arrived, and moved onstage. Miss Taylor proved to be an absolute delight. Not a word of complaint passed her beautiful lips. Indeed, at the end of our first afternoon rehearsal, I was clearing up my papers prior to dinner break, and she wandered down into the stalls and up to my desk. "Richard, what do you do for dinner in this town?" "Well," I replied, "I and the crew are going to the pub." "Oh, how great may I join you?" 

We trouped across the road to the pub, and all sat round a beer-laden table . . . every night, all through the tech rehearsals. 

She was an absolute blast! Naturally the crew and I fell in love with this amazingly friendly, free-and-easy, and totally gorgeous woman . . . a great pub-companion too.”

Richard Pilbrow