If you are coming out to Las Vegas this week for LDI, you may find yourself in the company of one of our most recent installations. Adding to the long list of projects which push the envelope of creativity and precision, we now include the "Sky" structure of Cirque du Soleil's Mystere. After 16 years the original structure was deemed to have served a long and full life and the show's production team was faced with the need to rebuild the grid system over the stage. Complicating the project was the need for this new equipment to fit into the existing rigging system with no modifications to the support points, and to meet the load capacity of the original grid.
The "Sky" is much more than a normal rigging grid. At more than 69 feet wide and 46 feet deep, the completely custom space frame system acts as grid, scenic element, projection surface and even character in the show. Installed on purpose built winches and rotation points, the grid is able to move from upstage to downstage, flies vertically, and can be rotated from vertical to horizontal. With every section of the system being a custom component with effectively no straight components, the components are based around a space frame design that is four feet deep. The system is joined together via specially made fork end connectors based upon Total Structures' OMNI connector system.
For this new incarnation of the well known part of the show, the team at Mystere used the opportunity to make some changes which would improve the system. With engineering review provided by Shawn Nolan (then of Nolan Engineering Services), it was found that the new system could be built to look exactly like the original, while weighing far less. Going from over 7000 pounds for the original version to 5000 pounds for the new Total Structures iteration, the production team gained additional capacity for the entire system while reducing the loads on the automation equipment which moves the Sky.
As this project was a refit for an existing show, the new components had to fit perfectly, not only in the physical sense of mating with the automation system but also into the limited timeframe provided by the show's dark days. With only five days during the show's January break, the production team at the Mystere Theater had to remove the existing Sky, clear it from the building, and move in, reassemble, test and paint the new grid.
Here's to the Sky staying above the Las Vegas strip for another sixteen years.