Thursday, July 30, 2009

Load-In Begins at Uihlein for Phantom

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Insurgent Theatre leaves town shortly to go on tour with Ulysses’ Crewmen. The Missoula Oblongata comes to town next week with its touring show . . . the wonderful thing about a touring DIY-level show is its relatively small carbon footprint. A casual observer rifling through the artifacts of the Insurgents’ traveling show would find a fake gun and holster, a gag and a bunch of rope among other things (could make for an interesting conversation if police decide to search their bags at any point in their journey,) but they wouldn’t have to search a vast trailer for such things.

Anyone who has passed by the Marcus Center these past couple of days has seen the Phantom trailer . . .yes . .  . the marketing machine is in full swing for the Phantom of the Opera’s month-long occupancy at the Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall. People will come into town from all over to see the fifteen-year-old traveling production, bringing with them all kinds of tourist revenue. Before all that can happen, a massive load-in has to be completed. It starts this morning. I was invited to come and see it as a member of the press, but will be unable to due to prior commitments.

Not far from the river this morning, a crew of electricians and other techies will be laying down deck and cabling for a show that Stage Manager Amy Marisco calls, “enormous.” It’s a show so big that load-in has to start two weeks before opening night. Before long, there will be a crew of people hoisting a 2-ton chandelier above the stage. (An odd note about that—I spent something like a half hour correcting two words in next week’s theatre preview . . . evidently the Marcus Center’s M&I Chandelier (yes, the chandelier  has its own corporate sponsor, or did as of a 1996 writing, anyway) weighs a little over half a ton less than the infamous chandelier in the set of Phantom. It is substantially heavier. The Phantom's chandelier is  2 tons to the Marcus Center’s 2,800-pound lighting fixture. The Marcus Center’s chandelier has it beat on size, though with some 9,000 bulbs. Precisely why any of this is significant to me is anybody’s guess. I seem to have forgotten.)


The Phantom of the Opera opens next week. A preview runs in next week’s Shepherd. Some of the details in this blog can be found in a really interesting online text on load-in for touring Broadway shows. Here's a link to the text for anyone who would find that sort of thing interesting. (I'm not the only one, right? . . . right? . . .)

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