Spotlight on Buxton pantomime lighting designer’s fairytale career

Rachel Cleary working at Buxton Opera House.
Rachel Cleary working at Buxton Opera House.

Golden girl Rachel Cleary is lighting up Buxton!

The talented lighting designer has returned to Buxton Opera House - where she cut her teeth in the theatre business - and is currently working on the venue’s biggest-selling event of the year, the annual pantomime.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has already received fantastic reviews, commending the high quality of the production including its ‘creative and magical lighting’.

Rachel is thrilled to be back working at the theatre where, not long ago, she held the post of theatre technician.

“I’m really pleased I got the opportunity to do this,” she said. “It’s great to be back and I love working with the team.”

During her time at Buxton Opera House and the Pavilion Arts Centre between April 2013 and May 2015, Rachel gained experience in a variety of different technical areas, including lighting productions for the opera house’s youth company.

“After leaving the opera house I became freelance,” said Rachel. “I did lighting and video work for events such as the Madness Grandslam Tour and video design for the Shane Filan tour.

“But lighting design is my passion and I’ve now joined the ALD Lumière scheme, assisting lighting designers in the West End. One of my most recent jobs was as assistant lighting designer to Peter Mumford on Stepping Out, starring Amanda Holden and Angela Griffiths.

“It’s an amazing opportunity as I’ve also been working with lighting designers such as Rick Fisher and Neil Austin, who lit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

Rachel said one of the highlights of her two-year posting at the opera house was when Brian May performed at the theatre.

“Also when Toploader came to Buxton, I did the lighting for them and I’m a big fan. It was great, I even got a t-shirt!” she laughed.

The ALD has given Rachel time out from the scheme so that she can light this year’s production of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, but she’ll be back at work again in January with Made in India at The Belgrade in Coventry assisting Prema Mehta, and in February when Stepping Out transfers to the West End.

n Tickets are still available for the Buxton Opera House pantomime, which runs until January 1.

Call the box office on 01298 72190 or visit