The Big Launch

The cast are working hard upstairs in the rehearsal room, the boat is in the water, and tickets are selling fast!

The auditorium was a hive of activity last week – in a matter of hours on Wednesday morning the pond liner had been fitted, and by lunchtime the hoses were filling the mighty 40,000 litre tank. This involved much paddling by the production team, and anxious heaving of the pond liner to try and ensure it was as flat as possible. John (Production Manager) calculated that using two large hoses, it would take around 18 hours to fill the tank.  But this was done in shifts so it could be supervised, just in case…

Tim (Head of Construction) was looking the part with his welding kit – sparks flying as he put the finishing touches to the two bridges that will link the auditorium seating to the grandstand seating on stage, these will also be used by the cast to get on and off the boat during the performances. Meanwhile the technicians were building a ramp in preparation for the boat to be loaded into the dock. The polystyrene river banks have been moved back to the workshop to be waterproofed and painted by our scenic artists.

A project like this has a number of big challenges. One particular concern has been how to make sure the pond liner doesn’t tear, and then leak. Carpet was the answer, with the wooden structure of the tank being carpeted to provide a soft base for the pond liner, and then an extra layer on top of the liner at the bottom of tank. This caused a slight panic on Thursday, when the top layer of carpet wanted to float! The production team found themselves pulling on their waders and jumping into the quickly filling tank. Apparently they were expecting this to happen (but perhaps not quite this much). So now there are 40 weights at the bottom of the tank keeping the carpet firmly in its place.

It took until Friday for the tank to fill and it was all hands on deck as the boat was gently wheeled in to the scene dock to the side of the stage. It’s amazing the number of technical drawings needed to plan every slight move and angle of the boat to ensure it made it in the building.

The call went out at the end of the day to say the boat would be going in to the water shortly. Staff and cast gathered in the main house to watch the boat be gently lowered into the tank, with cheers and woops as it gently touched down.

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Thanks to Lydia Stamps Photography

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