Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Small Matter of 27,000 Pounds

Engineering Difficulties at The Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts announced earlier today that it will be forced to temporarily suspend events currently scheduled for Uihlein Hall. Evidently, a complex mechanical system used to set-up components of the hall’s acoustic shell malfunctioned.

The acoustic shell of the Uihlein Hall isn’t something most people think about when attending a show. It’s actually a fairly big, immensely heavy thing. Consisting of 2 side sections, a back wall section and a ceiling section, the acoustic shell is into and out of place by a mechanical system which seems to have had a bit of difficulty. During the movement (migration, really) of the 27,000+ pound ceiling section, a mechanical difficulty caused the ceiling section to be locked in what the press release referred to as a “mid-stage position.” Fortunately, no one was injured in the malfunction. Engineering experts are going to be working on figuring out what exactly happened and what can be done to correct the problem.

"We will not reopen Uihlein Hall until we can ensure patron, employee and performer safety, " said Marcus Center President Paul Mathews in the press release. "We expect to have a better understanding of how long the problem will take to correct after the engineers have completed their inspection of the shell."

The most immediate show scheduled for Uihlein Hall is this weekend’s Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Pops concert. Marvin Hamlisch was scheduled to conduct the MSO Pops’ tribute to Cole Porter April 8th-10th. The concert may have to be canceled, but no formal announcements have been made to this effect. The MSO and other groups that may be impacted by the temporary closing of Uihlein Hall have been notified and will, in turn, notify their patrons as the situation should become necessary. None of the events planned for the rest of the Marcus Center are effected. 

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