The gigantic chandelier, which descends from the ceiling of the Blaisdell Concert Hall in the final moments of Act 1 in “The Phantom of the Opera,” is the centerpiece of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
What’s so special? Hawaii is the first to see this brand-new icon, dubbed Chandy, as “Phantom” takes residency through Sept. 1 at the concert hall.
Like the whirring helicopter that lands and takes flight in “Miss Saigon,” or the current giant ape roaring and moving in “King Kong,” identifying special effects elements have become defining signatures of the mega-musicals on Broadway. Chandy is just that.
“Phantom” is Broadway’s longest-running musical (31 years and counting; it opened Jan. 26, 1988).
Honolulans will be the first to witness the newly redesigned chandelier in motion in this touring production, along with reinvented staging and designs, according to Jason Juenker, the show’s production supervisor.
“This chandelier is different from the others,” said Juenker. “It is a whole new design by Howard Eaton Lighting Ltd. (designer of the 2012 Olympic Rings) as part of scenic designer Paul Brown’s overall tour design for the spectacular new production,” said Juenker.
“This chandelier design is only for the new production; the physical design and fall are specific to this tour,” he said. “So when it is in Honolulu, that’s the only place in the world you can see it.”
The newbie — the size of a truck — is inspired by the actual chandelier at the Paris Opera House though not an exact replica.
“The actual chandelier weighs in at roughly 1,500 pounds,” Juenker said. “This is for the chandelier only and does not include the gold rose which hangs above it, which is another 1,000 pounds.”
Nicknamed Chandy or The Chandy by some in the tech crew, this chandelier boasts more than 6,000 crystals (632 on each strand), 20 LED external globes and 50 pyrotechnic elements, plus five different pyro effects.
“What is also exciting about this chandelier crash experience is that more things happen on stage that make the entire experience thrilling,” Juenker continued. “No spoilers here.” So the tip is when you look up, don’t miss looking on stage, too.
Spoiler alert: This Chandy remains over the orchestra section, initially cloaked in a wrap that makes it look like a huge beehive. It’s still “Lot 666,” when the opening auction scene ensues. But it’s overhead. It’s a new version and a new vision. It also doesn’t land on stage, but jiggles and drops a few feet, till it’s elevated during intermission.
Chandy, said Juenker, doesn’t take much in terms of special handling. “It rides with the other scenery in one of the nine scenic trucks. Due to its size, which basically is the width of a standard truck, we are unable to put anything more than a simple bump frame around the unit; anything larger would make the unit too wide to fit. The chandelier rides in one piece, with the exception of the lighting globes around the outside, which are removed to help reduce the width for the trucks.”
Installing this bright and sparkling gal, to enable her to shine in the show, is a multistep process fit for a queen and requires several days due to rigorous safety concerns.
“On the first day, the advance, we install chain hoists into the theater ceilings to hang it on when the chandelier arrives; (it) arrives on Day Two, and because the unit hangs over the audience, platforms are constructed over the seating areas to allow us to roll it from the stage. From that platform, we hang all of the necessary automation effects and the chandelier itself,” said Juenker.
Then it’s two more days of testing and run-throughs with rigorous safety considerations.
“We look at every stop position to maximize audience views of the effects and run the ‘crash’ several times.”
“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score during the crash is iconic and definitely is part of the entire theatrical experience to delight and thrill the audience — even those who have seen the show many times,” said Juenker.
Indeed, Chandy is as much as a star — earning her own cheers and hurrahs — as the Phantom and his beloved Christine.
Tickets: $30-$150, at 800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.
All in the family
It will be all in the ohana — “A Family Affair — Hawaiian Style” is the theme — when entertainer Augie Rey takes the spotlight at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Aug. 27 at Blue Note Hawaii at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort.
Rey has assembled three families of performers for this one:
>> His daughter, Tahiti Rey, who is a singer, composer and guitarist.
>> Kimo Kahoano, the sometimes performer and host of “Hawaii Stars,” and his singer-composer-guitarist-ukulele strummer son, Kamuela Kahoano.
>> Jeannette Trevias, keyboardist-singer, and her vocalist son, Timmy Taylor.
Tickets: $25 to $45, at 777-4890 or bluenotehawaii.com. …
And that’s “Show Biz.”