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My Fair Lady: flame/alcohol burner effect required in scene


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My local Operatic Society is putting on My Fair Lady at the end of November. In the scene where Higgins teaches Eliza not to drop her aitches, an alcohol burner is required.


We are putting on the production in an old, local theatre which absolutely forbids any kind of naked flame (which may well be true in all UK theatres now - I am no expert! (I am playing Higgins!).


It would be absolutely fantastic if somebody could point me to somewhere we might hire a suitable, UK H+S-friendly device which will do the trick. As I understand it, we need something which can be controlled by Eliza which clearly shows a flame moving up (or not) depending on whether she is saying aitch (and not haitch). I'm sure you all know more than I do.


Many thanks,



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Firstly, 'Is written in the script' dosn't necessarily mean 'Is 100% required'.


If the theatre prohibits naked flames, then so be it. It is NOT the case in all theatres, and far from it - to be frank, many pyro effects are FAR more risky than a single, properly assessed and controlled flame. But that's still down to the venue.


As for effective substitutes, nothing springs immediately to mind, though the few MFL productions I've been involved with over the years have never bothered with this.

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The current Opera Australia production does use the effect. The flame wavers when the "h" is aspirated (which Eliza is not able to do, except when she says "ever"). To be honest, when I saw the show, I wasn't convinced - it wasn't really easy to see what was going on.


When I was involved in an am-dram production some years ago, we used a very light-weight feather (the sort you get in pillows) attached to a piece of cotton and hanging from a small frame. It was brightly coloured like a budgie feather, and just required a small change in the script.



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When I did sound for MFL a few years back I believe they used a very small silk flame for the effect....I don't know the details but recall it worked well and was visible even from my mix position at the back of the auditorium...where any real alcohol flame would be practically invisible under stage lighting.



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I would consider a small silk flame effect as suggested above.

Most such effects use several small MR11 halogen lamps, often two yellow, one orange, and one blue.

Consider useing all or mainly blue lamps, as this will better simulate the blue flame of alcohol burning.


With a little ingenuity it should be possible to remotly vary the fan speed in order to control the "flame"

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