Unusual makes magic at Hippodrome Casino
Tuesday, 5 March 2019
magicMagic Mike Live! at the Hippodrome Casino (photo: Trevor Leighton)
UK - Unusual Rigging has worked its own magic on Magic Mike Live! (an in-depth production report is coming soon in a future edition of LSi).
When TAIT UK was tasked with a seemingly impossible feat, operations director Alex Hitchcock turned to Unusual.
"We were initially approached by Magic Mike Live! with an enquiry for an automation and engineering package at the theatre at the Hippodrome Casino on Leicester Square", explains Hitchcock. "Some overhead rigging and staging, steel work structure, diversions and winches. We were already familiar with the venue having once done another show there. But at that time, installing a single winch was a nightmare - Magic Mike required about 18!"
The Hippodrome Casino is not a big venue - certainly not designed with the intention of staging elaborate productions like Magic Mike Live!. "The venue had no rigging structure - no grid at all,” continues Hitchcock. “It was beyond our normal remit to achieve the rigging elements of this brief, so we went straight to Unusual for advice."
He worked closely with Unusual's Emily Egleton, who adds: "The first thing we had to do was a survey of the roof – some very old architectural drawings of the venue existed but none gave away any information about the roof and its weight loading capabilities. Once we had some idea of this, we worked with Alex to design and supply a full package of diversions and fixings and supplied all the trusses too."
Even with some designs and a plan in place, the difficulties of the job continued: "At the time that we were due to install everything, the room was also undergoing a complete remodelling. That was overrunning and so at one point there were 40-50 people including building contractors, show production people etc, all trying to work in one space. The only load in was via passenger lift or up the stairs - all public spaces."
Egleton adds: "In terms of location, it was nothing short of horrendous - we had no parking dispensations, so we were parked up on public streets in the middle of Soho trying to unload onto the street and manhandle everything up the stairs. We're not talking small little bits either but bridges and stairs sections and all the overhead rigging." Hitchcock explains: "It was very much an out of control Tetris game but Unusual were very good and very patient at being adaptive to the situation."
One of the scenic elements that Unusual worked on was a shallow pool that lands on stage. The actors perform in the pool with a rain effect overhead. Working together, Egleton and TAIT devised a way to lower and raise the pool and then track it off stage and out of the way of the performer flying points. With some winches, control and rope, they figured out a diversion system to make this happen flawlessly.
(Jim Evans)

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