Weighty mission for Phantom stage crew

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 16/06/2014

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They cost more than $700,000 to make and arrived in New Plymouth in six shipping containers.

The set, props and costumes for the New Plymouth Operatic Society's production of Phantom of the Opera, which opens on July 3, weighed 6 tonnes.

About 50 members of the society had a busy weekend unpacking and putting the set together at the TSB Showplace.

Helping them was Andrew Gibson who is a touring mechanist.

He described a mechanist as a "glorified stage hand", while someone else said it was the "clever guy who puts everything together".

Gibson, from Wellington, is head rigger for WOW and production manager for the New Zealand Festival.

He will stay in New Plymouth for the whole season of Phantom of the Opera because he is doing the pyrotechnics, which cost $28,000, for the show.

The set would be a tight fit in the TSB Showplace, he said.

"But it is a nice theatre, which makes a lot of difference," he said.

The set was built in Wellington and paid for by a consortium of nine operatic societies from around the country that got together to buy the rights to stage Phantom of the Opera just over two years ago.

New Plymouth is the fourth operatic society, after Wellington, Hamilton and Napier, to use the set.

President Kevin Landrigan said amateur productions had to be different from professional performances, so the mask the Phantom wears has to be worn on the other side of his face. The mask and the prosthesis costs $8000 and takes two hours to put on.

Seats for the show are selling fast, so an extra week has been added. The season has been extended to a fourth week, and between 10,000 and 12,000 people are expected to see the show.

Phantom of the Opera, which has a cast and crew of more than 200, runs until July 26.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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