A few months ago, we brought you the news of a live show coming to Belfast in May next year, a show that is based around the ‘Fast and Furious’ movie franchise and on Monday, we got a Northern Ireland exclusive look at what to expect.
Having recently moved from their old training base, aptly named ‘fast camp’ situated in a secret location somewhere in England, the small team of drivers, actors, choreographers and producers now call the NEC in Birmingham home – alongside a mass number of riggers, carpenters and skilled tradesfolk who continue to develop the set and cars.
It won’t be home for long though, come January they will be dismantling the vast set, which incorporates a few world firsts in regards to the technologies employed, and moving it to the O2 Arena in London ahead of the premiere.
Despite rigorous training, utilising the cars that will be performing mind-blowing adrenaline-fuelled stunts during the live arena shows, within the set that will be used around the globe for the next five years, the team found time to open the doors and let us in to watch a dress performance with around 50 of the worlds media in attendance.
I must admit, on seeing the invite come in, I was very excited and knew I had to be there – not only to see the technologies that have been developed specifically for this show in all their glory, but to admire the cars first hand, the cars that we grew to love when watching them in the flicks.
Incorporating the perfect blend of original cars from the movie series, to exact replica’s built specifically for this all-new arena tour, we saw firsthand, the cars that gripped many of us in our early days of being a car enthusiast.
From some 39 vehicles used during the show, expect the most iconic cars from the first movie in the form of Brian’s Toyota Supra and Dom’s 1970 Dodge Charger, the Supra producing a monstrous 720bhp at 1.2bar of boost.
From the fifth incarnation of the movie, the ‘Safe Charger’ and a Dodge Charger SRT can be seen whilst one of the actual ‘ramp cars’ from the sixth movie is used, it is one of only two left in the world having featured in the movie.
Fast attack buggies from the seventh movie, feature alongside Letty’s actual Dodge Challenger from the same film and a plethora of vehicles from the eighth movie are used such as Polaris RMK 800 Assult snow mobiles and one of just two Lamborghini Murcielago’s used in filming.
Expect absolutely everything else in between, from planes and trains to submarines and tanks during the two-hour spectacle – I won’t spoil the show too much, but having watched some of the action and story-line unfold, I can assure you, expect your mind to be blown!
We got a glimpse of most vehicles that are part of the show, within the backstage parking lot, whilst we were treated to seeing several of the more famous cars in action at this exclusive preview event.
On walking through the vast corridors of the NEC in Birmingham, I knew I was close to the final training hall, when the sweet scent of burning rubber that was seeping under the shutters, past security and into the corridors hit me like a wet fish on a cold day.
From the nine vehicles in the opening parade to the four LED cars that feature in the ‘Miami Street Racing’ scene or the two that destroy tyres in the ‘Tokyo Drift’ underground car park scene, it was a sight to behold with a soundtrack and special effects like no other.
On chatting to Alix Wilding from ‘Feeding the Fish’, the company who are responsible for the technology aboard the LED cars, she informed me that the Nissan Skyline features 44,000 individual LED lights, possibly a world record for the number of LED lights on a car whilst each vehicle carries 175kg’s of equipment, enabling them to recreate the much loved colour schemes from the movies.
The programming of these colour schemes and lots of other colourful arrays that appear on these cars is done individually and takes weeks per vehicles to perfect and set-up – having seen some of their previous work years ago, i can assure you that this latest venture has pushed the boundaries of what they do a thousand times.
The set is nothing short of mesmerising – incorporating cutting edge pyrotechnics and 3D projection mapping which takes the audience from the frozen tundra of Russia to a multi story car park in Tokyo, you really do travel the world with this show.
This mapping, not only changes the scenes and take you around the world, but it also leaves super-realistic trails and effects on the ground, as if in real life – you could easily be so absorbed in the show, that you would actually believe you are sitting within a Universal Studio’s movie set as it is being shot.
It boggles the mind as to where the physical set stops and the projection on the floors and backdrop actually start as the transition between the physical and the projected is so seamless. Some of the drivers even commented that seeing the difference, took a bit of getting used to during performances.
Lead characters – street racer Sophia Diaz and DSS Agent Dawson, join forces to hunt down Cain, one of the last remaining thugs from Cipher’s crew and as the live audience journey through the show with Diaz and Dawson on their mission, they not only witness mind-blowing car acrobatics, they become part of a team working together to get the bad guy.
The audience are set to become the heroes in this epic adventure which is coming to Belfast’s SSE Arena in May next year. It’s not easy, but Sophia and Dawson give them the training they need, as scene after intense scene unfolds before them.
Kicking off in London’s O2 arena on 19 January 2018, Fast & Furious Live will visit 14 European countries after which the crew and cars will head to the US for two years before heading to Asia in 2021 with a return to Europe to finish off the five-year live tour in 2022.
During our day at the dress rehearsal we managed to catch up with the mastermind behind the show as well as some of the local driving talent – watch it now below, before checking out the gallery of what you can expect from this Hollywood inspired show!
Tickets on sale at www.fastandfuriouslive.com – be sure not to miss on seeing this high-octane live show first hand at the SSE Arena in Belfast at the start of May next year!
Words and Photos: Graham Curry
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