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How set pieces move across the stage?

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442namffug
Broadway Legend
joined:12/26/04
Broadway Legend | Joined: 12/26/04

How set pieces move across the stage?

#0
Posted: 12/30/04 at 5:48pm
Hey everyone. I was wondering how set pieces move across the stage in so many shows. I presume it is a motor from under the stage, but how does it work? where is it controlled from. Also, I have heard of "tracks". Can they take set pieces off of the tracks mid-show and replace them with pieces for a new scene?
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FOAnatic
Broadway Legend
joined:11/22/04
Broadway Legend | Joined: 11/22/04

re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#1
Posted: 12/30/04 at 5:54pm
I am not a set expert but what little knowledge I have I will share with you. The set moves across the stage on tracks that are built into the stage. What powers the set to move as it does are a series of motors that are located underneath the stage and the controls to the movement are located in the control/light room or backstage...depending on the theatre. This is most of what I learned from various technical people I have talked to. I hope I helped.
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Jon
Broadway Legend
joined:2/20/04
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/20/04

re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#2
Posted: 12/30/04 at 6:03pm
Yes, different set peces can be moved by one track.

Another, older technique that is still sometimes used is a treadmill which runs the entire width of the stage (and more - it runs several feet into the wings). This was used in the original INTO THE WOODS, the carriage in the opening, and the Prince's horse at the end of Act 1 were set on the treadmill so they could ride on and offstage. The cow was placed on the treadmill so it could "run away", and the hen rode on from the sings with Jack chasing it. During "Hello Little Girl", Red Riding Hood skipped in place on the treadmill with the Wolf walking behind her.
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son_of_a_gunn_25
Broadway Legend
joined:11/11/03
Broadway Legend | Joined: 11/11/03

re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#3
Posted: 12/30/04 at 6:15pm
I saw a treadmill used with a local production of Joseph once. It was very effective. When it came time for scene changes people would move props onto the treadmill and then step on the treadmill themselves. They then froze themselves like hieroglyphics and the treadmill moved them offstage. It was neat because it was almost like thy became part of the set as they moves off.
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BlueWizard
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joined:5/18/04
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#4
Posted: 12/30/04 at 6:39pm
Then there's always the use of a revolving stage, a la Les Miz, to get set pieces on and offstage.

Actually, I think some shows still have people (sometimes cast members, sometimes crews) to push the sets on and off the stage. In HAIRSPRAY for example, two ensemble members help wheel the Corny Collins Show sign (with Velma on it) off upstage during her "Miss Baltimore Crabs - Reprise."
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joined:1/1/70
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#5
Posted: 12/30/04 at 6:40pm
i LOVE the use of the treadmill (i think there were two acutally or maybe more) in ITW--too bad the revival gave that up.

OK so are these moving setpieces "travelators" or are travelators somethign else for smaller pieces?

E
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#6
Posted: 12/30/04 at 7:03pm
I thought i was little mice that ran in circles round and round to make the sets move.
broadwayguy2
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joined:5/18/03
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#7
Posted: 12/30/04 at 7:15pm
the mice are used in weissler productions.. saves cost
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VeuveClicquot
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joined:11/2/04
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#8
Posted: 12/30/04 at 7:18pm
Saves cost? Are you kidding? Those mice are in the Union.
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442namffug
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joined:12/26/04
Broadway Legend | Joined: 12/26/04

re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#9
Posted: 12/30/04 at 7:21pm
This post wasn't meant as a joke. Thanks to those who have provided some answers. would appreciate any others re: How set pieces move across the stage?
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Tiny-Toon
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joined:8/23/04
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#10
Posted: 12/30/04 at 7:22pm
re: How set pieces move across the stage?

This is what they have under the stage at the Virginia,
to move all the pieces in LITTLE WOMEN. They have 12.

defy_gravity
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joined:9/12/04
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#12
Posted: 12/30/04 at 7:24pm
WOW, cool picture.
Hooray for the revolving stage.
Les Miserables is awesome. I love that stage.
Lol. YAY!
We can't all come and go by bubble...
defy_gravity
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joined:9/12/04
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#13
Posted: 12/30/04 at 7:25pm
WOW, cool picture.
Hooray for the revolving stage.
Les Miserables is awesome. I love that stage.
Lol. YAY!
We can't all come and go by bubble...
maybethistime
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joined:12/3/04
Broadway Legend | Joined: 12/3/04

re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#14
Posted: 12/30/04 at 7:58pm
there are also things called slip-stages in some theatres. this is like a pannel on the floor that moves back and fourth and is controlled from the booth. lets say, a bench needs no be on stage. so a stagehand puts the bench on the half of the slip-stage that's offstage, and then when its time, the booth person slides the slip-stage on and the bench is onstage, then it slides off and is moved for another set piece. some theatres have many, often times so many theres one for every big set peice that needs to go on. i LOVE the old movie montages with treadmills like broadway melody in singing in the rain... so creative!!
RentBoy86
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joined:2/15/05
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#15
Posted: 9/12/05 at 1:51am
is this how tours work too? I didn't think the theater here had all that stuff under the stage.
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ticenewyorkcity
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joined:1/13/05
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#16
Posted: 9/12/05 at 2:16am
tours, if i can recall, generally have a DECK that is laid down onto the stage and is not permanent. show's like les miz clearly built their stage INTO the theatre. set peices travel on tracks or treadmills that are laid into the deck.
d
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justme2
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#17
Posted: 9/12/05 at 2:23am
I've always been curious about this as well. Last winter, when we saw White Christmas at the Curran, my friends and I marveled at how they could move the huge Vermont Inn setpiece. It looked (from an audience point of view) that the front side of the Inn and the interior of the Inn were actually ONE setpice that had to be completely reversed each time the scene changed from interior to exterior.

Thanks for everyone's information!
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Jon
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joined:2/20/04
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#18
Posted: 9/12/05 at 8:23am
Regarding LES MIZ:

Because of the revolving stage, the use of "tracks" is not an option. The two huge "barricade" units are actually like parade floats - they have their own motors and are "driven" by stage hands who are concealed inside them.
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Lizziemonster
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#19
Posted: 9/12/05 at 8:44am
In about 3 weeks I am going to be in a performance of Summer Holiday and we are having a full size London Bus set that will arc across the stage and technicalities have still not been resolved but I believe it is motorised on tracks which are temporary to the theatre for our performance, you would think at this lates stage they would have worked it out by now though, as long as the thing does not collapse while i am dancing on it I will be happy
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CostumeMistress
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#20
Posted: 9/12/05 at 8:51am
Someone mentioned that actors move set pieces offstage... it's possible, but most semi-pro and especially pro theatres avoid that at all costs. If an actor has to move a set piece, it has to be added to their contract as one of their duties since it's a non-acting contribution to the production. Union actors also have to get a raise in pay if they have to move a set piece.
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BwayBaby18
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joined:2/19/05
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#21
Posted: 9/12/05 at 9:16am
Yea i was always thought Union actors weren't allowed to move sets unless it gets written into your contract or something like that.

I think the most effective turns table would have to be the one they use in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
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Lizziemonster
Understudy
joined:9/8/05
Understudy | Joined: 9/8/05

re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#22
Posted: 9/12/05 at 9:20am
Not that we are union but we are not allowed to move anything with out gaining a health a safty certificate saying you have been trined to do it, this even included walking with tables and chairs for some of us chorus people and if your beach ball goes out into the audience during the final beach scene then its just tough none of us have been trained ot walk down the steps to go get it, I feel this is taking it a little bit too far but I am told by those in the production who are pro and union that they do have to have it written into thier contracts for this health and safty reason, if they are not trained and then hurt themselves they can say it "was not their job" so to speak and the theatre is held libel for it
Updated On: 9/12/05 at 09:20 AM
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NYC_or_Bust
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joined:3/8/05
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#23
Posted: 9/12/05 at 2:38pm
Some of my favorite sets pieces that move on and off are in beauty and the beast...I LOVE the well that moves on and off by itself. Also, I'm assuming the columns in the castle are on tracks (either in the floor or on flys). But my absolute favorite is when the beast and belle finish the waltz and that bench that they sit on folds out from the floor....SUUUWHEEET!
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jonartdesigns
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#24
Posted: 9/12/05 at 9:22pm
not to do with motion so much as suspension. i always thought that the muzzy's apartment set was a little precarious to be hung from the rafters.

at my high school's theater i always dread putting on shows since they have no set movement method(the school dropped it from the plans along with the fly system and the dressing rooms to make it "cost effective") in the stage other than having stage hands run out with the lights dimmed. recently i flat out offered to pay for a turntable and was told it was "unneccesary and dangerous"....sorry for threadjacking, end of rant
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chinkie azn jai
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re: How set pieces move across the stage?

#25
Posted: 9/12/05 at 9:37pm
"Because of the revolving stage, the use of "tracks" is not an option. The two huge "barricade" units are actually like parade floats - they have their own motors and are "driven" by stage hands who are concealed inside them."

hehehe the mental pictures.
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