We’ve hit a little lull in the load-in at The Orpheum in Memphis so I’ll try to add a little detail to Rob Spence’s question and Tim Mc’s response.
I hesitate to use the term “cookie cutter”, because each design will have some show specific items and configurations. That said, most touring Broadway show rigs are pretty generic because they have to work in so many different spaces. Tim pointed out many several factors that help keep the differences in spaces manageable. I can think of a couple more.
1. The physical show has to fit in the building.
If our show deck and scenery don’t fit in the building we can’t play there. That doesn’t mean they won’t shoe horn us into every last available inch of space available (like the Shubert in Boston for those of you who visited there) but it does mean we aren’t going to be playing small vaudeville type theaters. We also need a fly house because of all of the flown drops and set pieces. That means we aren’t going to be playing arenas or gymnasium/auditorium spaces.
2. If Phantom didn’t change it Lion King did.
Almost every large road house in the country has been modified to accommodate these two shows. Times were different when Phantom of the Opera started touring. The show was basically printing money for producers, presenters, and the road crews for that matter. The show didn’t adapt to the venue, the venue adapted to the show. Sometimes including demolition and rebuilding of the entire stage house or a complete structural overhaul to the grid. As a result, most road houses in the country have specific points (they are even referred to as “Phantom points”) that you can count on for rigging downstage of the proscenium. They have holes drilled through concrete walls for cable passage. They have hooks to run cable over doors. This allows for a certain level of consistency that every subsequent show is able to take advantage of.
We carry 250′ bundles for our FOH runs. We also have 100′ extensions for these. We’ve used the extensions twice, I believe, in 23 cities thus far. So that’s an entire “gray” cable trunk (see pic #1) that we carry around and very rarely use. The majority of the time we will have some excess cable. Usually we will pick a corner and stack coils of the excess cable. All of the bundles are run in a specific order so that we can pull them out in reverse order and not have to dig cable out from the bottom of the pile (pic #2).
We also carry a gray and a “diamond” cable trunk, each full of spare cable. This is stock that we can use to replace damaged or otherwise defective cable through out the course of the run. We can also pull from this to accommodate non standard runs. An example of this was last week in Cleveland. The automation console had to be on a fourth floor jump because of a lack of deck space. This turned the normal 50′ run of com and video into a 150′ run. We were able to pull 100′ multicable and Cat5 from our spares case and extend this run.
The best example of something that changes on a regular basis is the length of feeder required to reach the disconnect for house power. We carry 210′ of feeder broken down into lengths of 100′, 50′, (2) 25′, 10′ and also a set of bare tales to Camlock. The 10′ jump is used to jump from our ISO transformer to our Motion Labs PD rack.
Finally, we are able to adapt to different locations for ampland by adopting interchangeable “Near/Far” nomenclature instead of “Left/Right”. We make identically populated bundles (same number of pairs, cable type, etc.) for things that appear on both sides of the stage and simply make one longer for the cross stage run. So if ampland is on stage left “Tower Near” will feed the stage left/house right tower. If ampland is on stage right “Tower Far” will feed the stage left/house right tower. The outputs at the rack are labeled Left/Right and we just have to connect the correct Near/Far mate for a given layout.
1. A Masque Sound “gray”. We have 10 of these.
2. The excess cable so far here in Memphis.
3. Masque Sound “diamonds”. We have 11 of these.
4. The aforementioned hooks here in Memphis. (more than likely from Phantom)