Manufacturing in the entertainment industry is often overlooked or perhaps, overshadowed by the event itself. But those in the know, know that for performances like Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’ show to run night after night without interruption, the dedication that goes on behind the scenes is every bit as important as the work happening on stage.
Robust and reliable stage equipment is a must where entertainer’s and technician’s safety are paramount. To manufacture a product which will stand up to constant and consistent cycling can’t be overstated, and Handling Specialty understands the high-level of excellence required for the entertainment industry. Where people are integrating with their environment like Cirque’s acrobats do, you need equipment you can trust to do its job queue after queue.
The water-themed stage production of ‘O’, playing at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and which Handling Specialty helped bring to life with several underwater stage lifts, is turning 21 this year. The pool in which the stage lifts operate is 25 feet deep and holds 1.5 million gallons of water which are kept at a comfortable 88 degrees Fahrenheit. During the show, 77 artists are supported by 125 technicians, 14 of which work underwater alongside the massive stage lifts for the length of the 90-minute show.
Four hydraulically-actuated lifts raise and lower the four-piece stage which measures 3,650 square feet. Handling Specialty’s success in the completion of this project marked the beginning of the company’s recognition as one of very few companies in the world who could successfully implement a turnkey project of this size and importance for an extremely high-profile theatre customer.
The stage lifts can reach lifting speeds of 20 feet per minute through the use of a hydraulic power unit with over 1,000 horsepower. Also contributing to the lift rate are the 40,000 holes incorporated into the stage floor which allows the water to quickly escape through the moving stage. The lift systems consist of 563,000 pounds of steel, 6,000 feet of welding and took 4,320 hours to manufacture. The four lifts integrated into the underwater system are rated to carry up to 1 million lbs with a 19’6” vertical travel.
FUN FACT: October 23, 2000 - Handling Specialty is proud to announce that it has become a Guinness World Record holder. The company received its record for the underwater stage lifts that it created for the Cirque du Soleil show. This stage lift system was the first of its kind in the world.
Wishing our friends at Cirque a happy 21st this year to the ‘O’ Show.
At 2:48 in this video you can watch one of the four underwater lifts operate during a performance underwater.
Interested in adding the excitement of a stage lift to your performance? Contact Mike Roper.