Case Studies

Phantom of the Opera

POTO ChandelierBackground

Many years ago APCI developed a motion control system specifically for use in theatre environment using tried and proven industrial automation products. This product is called StageMaster. It is a system dedicated to the motion control of flying, floor and revolving scenery on the theatre stage. Over the years StageMaster has been used in most of the large musical stage shows that have toured Australia. Recent shows that have used StageMaster are Jersey Boys, Billy Elliot, Wicked, Lion King, Mamma Mia!etc. StageMaster was also the control system that flew scenery and artists during the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney demonstrating it can be adapted for large stadiums. It can also be used in  fixed applications such as the atrium at Crown Entertainment complex where it is interfaced with their show control system and complements the regular music and lighting shows that are part of the atrium experience.

Phantom of the Opera is the world’s most successful and popular musical and the longest running show on Broadway. In 2004 the original control system on the Australian set of Phantom of the Opera was replaced by StageMaster. Since this time, this set has continuously toured throughout South Africa, South East Asia, China, Australia & New Zealand (again) and Korea. Once commissioned in Cape Town (South Africa) the system has been maintained by the crew that travel with the show with minimal support required by APCI. This is a testament to the reliability and durability of the StageMaster system as well as the level of documentation supplied and the remote support provided. Other upgrades undertaken on the show include a new winch system for the famous chandelier that spectacularly drops from the ceiling above the audience at the end of act one and a custom manufactured infra remote control system for the Phantom’s boat that drives around the stage with the Phantom and Christine on board.


POTO ThanksIn August 2012, APCI were requested to attend the bump in of Phantom of the Opera in Manila (Philippines) to assist in re-commissioning of a mother trust system (from which other scenery trusses hang) and a DC drive upgrade to the Phantom’s boat. Our visit just missed the severe local flooding in Manila at the time. The venue was the Cultural Centre of the Philippines, a large monolithic concrete building. Security is a priority in Manila with pat down searches of people, inspection of bags, and checking under vehicles a regular occurrence at hotels, the theatre and at shopping centres.  The streets are full of the colourful “Jeepney’s” jammed full of people, they seem to act as a means of public transport.

Loading of the set was quite well advanced with everybody fighting for time on stage to do their bit. Working past midnight was not uncommon when sole access to the stage was required. The mother trusses and their controls had not been used for a long time with some of the drive components borrowed for use on other shows and then hastily replaced ready for this show. Minor technical issues were overcome and some small improvements made. The trusses safety systems were also tested. The boats DC drives were replaced with current units and then calibrated and tested. The man that was to drive the boat in Manila was English and he was the driver of the very first Phantom boat on the original UK set many years ago. He was complimentary of the new drives performance and responsiveness.

The season in Manila is now finished and the set is currently bumping in to Seoul (South Korea) for yet another season. Who knows where next?