For their hit production of Ragtime, Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre turned to Chicago Flyhouse to design and deliver a series of impressive automated effects, including a high-speed stage elevator, a custom load-bearing cable system for rigged scenery, and an automated “bridge” that dominated the set.

To ensure compatibility and safety between the scenic elements and the automation machinery, Flyhouse worked closely with the Set Designer, Technical Director, Production Manager, and the scene shop to deliver seamless and smooth performance effects.

To accommodate the show’s quick cuts in time and location, Flyhouse delivered an automated elevator capable of lifting performers, pianos, and other objects from the trap room to the stage floor. A high-speed, virtually silent stage lift developed by Flyhouse for Drury Lane during their earlier production of Cabaret, the elevator can be easily dismantled and stored when not in use, and reconfigures for a variety of uses. To accomodate the elevator, Flyhouse was also chartered with the removal of Drury Lane’s pre-existing stage turntable.

The largest production effect was a 42′ long automated bridge that raised and lowered throughout the show. Using four of a Flyhouse custom Ziplift hoists, the controls were synchronized flawlessly via the I-RIG control system, ensuring that the bridge remained level, and all sections moved at the same speed. In addition, the bridge required the design and installation of a clear-spanning truss system allowing its weight to be transfered to the stage floor, as Drury Lane’s grid was at maximum due to existing lighting and stage equipment. The truss also ensured that the elevator and grid were isolated from each other, preventing vibrations from shaking the projectors and stage lights.

The entire installation, including removal of the stage turntable, took place in three days, allowing Drury Lane to keep on schedule for Ragtime’s demanding technical rehearsals.

Flyhouse is proud to be Drury Lane’s vendor of choice for automated and rigged effects, and congratulates the entire technical team on well-deserved critical praise for Ragtime’s stellar production values.

For more information about Drury Lane Theater, visit their website.