From Harry Potter, The Muppets, Legoland and Boris Johnson to Shake Tattoo
Now Michael Braithwaite is tasked with attracting a whole new audience to one of Scotland’s most iconic events when he finally emerges from the pandemic.
The New Zealand-born event guru has promised that there are plenty of surprises in store for the public expected to gather on the Edinburgh Castle esplanade when the event first takes place in three years next August. .
It will not only appeal to a more British audience than before, but will also aim to attract a much younger market, have a much wider ‘musical palette’ than before and offer a range of new effects.
But he insists he is overseeing an evolution rather than a revolution of an event valued at over £ 77million for the economy.
Mr Braithwaite was brought in to help revamp the tattoo several months after Major General Buster Howes was appointed managing director.
He was previously responsible for live entertainment at attractions and resorts run by Merlin Entertainments, and worked on films for the Harry Potter franchise and Jim Henson’s Creatures Shop, the special effects company established in 1979 by the creator of Muppets. During the 2012 Olympics, he was one of the main producers of London Mayor Boris Johnson‘s cultural festival.
Mr Braithwaite, the first New Zealander and the first non-military figure to lead the Tattoo, said:.
“It will always contain all the key things people expect, including bagpipes and drums en masse, our military bands and our own in-house musicians and dancers.
“But they will also have a lot of surprises and innovations and we will move things into a new era.
“As with all art forms, you move forward or backward. We really want to move forward, taking that legacy and its DNA, and asking ourselves, “What can we do to make the show fresh and exciting? ”
“We will build on what was there before, but evolving the tattoo into a modern space.
“We hope this will appeal to our traditional supporters who have attended in the past, but we are also looking to broaden our reach, especially with a younger audience.
“Our audience tends to be more mature. We recognize that a lot of our performers are much younger than the audience they played.
“We want to create a contemporary freshness in the way we present music. “
New sound and lighting systems will be deployed to transform the castle and – for the first time – the esplanade itself.
Mr Braithwaite added: “We want to spread a sense of immersion, so that the show does not just unfold in front of you, but around and above you.
“The tattoo will remain the wonderful and iconic event that it has been. The location is a big part of what makes it. The castle will always be there. We will always cross the drawbridge en masse.
“It will be an evolution of what happened before rather than a radical change.
“People who have never been there before should give us a try – they will be surprised to see how much there is in it, beyond what they might expect. “