As you may know, Jeff Wayne’s musical version of The War of The Worlds is based on an original story by H.G.Wells in 1897. It is one of the earliest science fiction stories concerning mankind against an alien race and has stood the test of time.
One of the key elements of Jeff’s success has been his diligence in staying true to the original story and keeping the narrative in Victorian England. He often refers back to the original novel and asks the question what would H.G.Wells think?
As the 2014 tour approached, Jeff was keen to bring this reflective approach to the show and acknowledge the story’s originator in the narrative. Renowned actor Callum O’Neill was invited to play H.G.Wells on stage and Oscar, Bafta and Emmy award winner Mark Coulier brought in to transform Callum from an aspirational 33 year old into a reflective version of the author approaching his twilight years.
Callum was to deliver his prophetic viewpoints at 3 key stages of the performance; at the start of each act and finally to give a conclusion to the state of humankind according to H.G.Wells. But he needed a platform to deliver his Soliloquy. Once more Jeff looked to AR Media to weave this new character into the CGI and realise his vision.
AR Media’s ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ interview with Callum O’Neil
It was during a production meeting at Jeff’s Baker Street offices that AR proposed placing the author on an Orrery or mechanical solar system as he reflects upon his latest story and its prophetic similarities to the world he lived in. This platform blended the theme of ageing and destruction whilst remaining true to the Victorian era of the production which greatly appealed to Jeff’s sense of authenticity.
At first the orrery is shiny and new, its mechanics are smooth and slick as images supporting the words spoken by a young, enthusiatic 33 year old HG Wells appear in the globes and behind the glass. As the story progresses, and a cynical HG Wells reaches the age of 53, the orrery begins to progressively degenerate, showing signs of wear and war torn damage reflecting his disdain for war during his second speech. By the conclusion, he is now a tired and weary man in his twilight years, the orrery is looking very tarnished and dishevelled and it’s movements become slow and jerky. It too is nearing the end of its working life…
Lastly, the AR team created a number of goodies exclusive to those who bought the tour programme. Using augmented reality, AR Media brought a Martian Fighting Machine to life walking across the programme pages and Jeff featured as a 3D model welcoming people to the story.
Slipping backstage, the team captured time lapse footage of the prosthetics and makeup required to turn Callum from a 33 year old into the aged H.G.Wells used in the promo and interviews with Jason Donovan, Jeff Wayne and Liam Neeson on appearing in the tour de force that is The War of The Worlds.