Now through August 15, the Orpheum Theater will undergo a one-to-one replacement of its rigging system. This project is being managed by Omaha Performing Arts, who through its redevelopment agreement with the city, is solely responsible for the Orpheum’s on-going maintenance, as well as any capital projects. The cost of the rigging project is nearly $1 million, which is funded primarily through private contributions.
Rigging is the equipment used to lift, lower and hold theatrical materials on or about the stage. Systems include lines or ropes, blocks or pulleys, weights and counterweights that enable the stage crew to quickly, quietly and safely “fly” or move such items as curtains, lights, scenery, stage effects and sometimes performers. Every theatrical performance uses rigging in some fashion.
Portions of the existing rigging are from 1927, when the theater first opened. Other sections of the Orpheum Theater rigging were updated in 1975 as part of a renovation. During the course of the 2012 Rigging Project, all cables will be dismantled and new ones installed. Ropes, pin rail, head blocks, lofts, blocks and the track wall will also be replaced. This project will ensure that the Orpheum continues to be a fully operational theater able to accommodate even the largest of national touring Broadway shows.
The project also includes rewiring and new cables for the theater’s 10 chandeliers, which were installed in 1927. The chandeliers will be lowered and suspended in scaffolding cages, while they are rewired, receive a thorough cleaning and have their light bulbs replaced. It takes six days to rewire just one chandelier. Work on the three Grand Lobby chandeliers is scheduled to be complete before July 8, in time for two weddings scheduled in the Orpheum lobby.
To see more photos of the on-going work at the Orpheum, visit Omaha Performing Arts’ Facebook page.