Syracuse, NY—Two life-sized pirate ships, bands of swashbucklers sword fighting across a 15-foot-deep lagoon, sails unfurling and props descending from the sky… there's nothing like a major family entertainment attraction to challenge every aspect of theatrical production.
So when Mike Compton of Pirates Voyage took on the challenge of bringing the new attraction to life in Myrtle Beach, SC, he knew he needed the rigging experts from J. R. Clancy, Inc. Compton had worked with Clancy on three other recent projects, so he knew they could help make the technical aspects of this show as exciting as they could be.
The latest attraction from Dolly Parton, Pirates Voyage moved into the building that housed her famous Dixie Stampede attraction for 19 seasons. Transforming a former Dixie Stampede hippodrome into a pirates' show in just five months—from its closing in January 2011 to its grand reopening on June 3, 2011—was no small challenge, Compton explained. “It's a metal building with girders, so we installed a series of catwalks coming off the girders to access everything,” he said.
To raise and lower the massive set pieces, Clancy supplied 11 custom-built, variable-speed drum hoists, each with 750-pound capacity and a blazing top speed of 416 feet per minute. “I'm familiar with a lot of the hoist configurations that Clancy manufactures, so we provided the drawings of the catwalk and the locations of the hoists,” Compton said.
With seating on every side of the arena, the hoists would be in full view at all times, said Patrick Finn, Clancy dealer project manager. “Mike needed hoists that could go into a confined space and still function,” he said. “The hoists are mounted to the side of the catwalks, and diverting loft blocks are mounted from the roof steel to get the lines to drop in the proper locations. There are four types of hoists, each designed differently to get the proper space and capacity requirements for the different scenic elements.” The hoists lower such pirate-specific props as anchors, skeletons, and a throne into view at dramatic speeds to delight the audience.
To accomplish these exciting effects, the owners selected Clancy's Altus controller. Altus can control up to 48 motorized hoists, and users can program up to 200 repeatable, consistently reliable cues for a single production. Each cue can control up to eight hoists at once, and each hoist can have its own speed, target position, acceleration and deceleration for spectacular scene changes.
“Clancy's great—I've been familiar with them since the 1970s,” Compton concluded. “Safety is their number one issue, and you can call them anytime on any phase of the project to make it work for you.”
More information about J. R. Clancy, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Wenger Corporation, is available at www.jrclancy.com, or by calling (800) 836-1885.