Lighting designer Paule Constable has revealed her regret at working on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, claiming it almost made her quit theatre altogether.
The Phantom of the Opera sequel received poor reviews when it opened in the West End in 2010, and was reworked before finally closing 18 months later in 2011.
Speaking at a Tonic Theatre event celebrating the achievements of influential women in theatre, Constable said her time spent on the show was “the closest I ever came to tipping over the edge, which was insanity”.
“I had one massive commercial project for Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s not my world, it was just the wrong show for me to be on,” she told the audience at the Ambassadors Theatre in London.
She added: “Everyone told me I should be grateful to be in the room. That’s never ever a reason to do anything. And it’s also never true. It nearly broke me, and I very nearly never stepped foot in a theatre again.”
Constable, who became the first woman to win an Olivier award for best lighting design in 2005, also challenged the industry to boost the number of women working backstage in theatre.
She revealed: “I’ve met maybe five female stage hands in my life. Sound and lighting, we are better. There are ghettos of tolerance.”
Claiming it “makes for a better environment” if backstage areas are more gender balanced, she continued: “It can be terrifying working in technical theatre, just the wall of men that one has to deal with. And I think if there are one or two chinks in that, it starts to ease, and everyone’s behaviour starts to change.”
The lighting designer was joined on the panel by playwright and director Jessica Swale, Tricycle Theatre artistic director Indhu Rubasingham, and Tonic Theatre’s founder Lucy Kerbel.