Summit Steel Plays the Red Piano

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Summit Steel is supplying a large trussing and motors package, together with a 20-way Kinesys automation system and control for Elton John's “Red Piano” touring extravaganza, which kicked off in Europe last week after a gig at the UK's Birmingham National Indoor Arena.

The project is managed by Jon Bray at Summit, who has liaised closely with the tour's head rigger Richard Wythes and production manager Henry Crallan to ensure that Summit's reputation for pre-planning has once again ensured that things are running very smoothly now the show's on the road.

Wythes has worked with Summit before, and originally suggested that they were one of the companies offered the chance to quote on the contract, so was extremely happy when they won that process.. “The great thing about Summit is the fantastic back up and support and the impressive speed at which they react – the service is really excellent,” he comments. He adds that the quality of Summit's kit is always good, well serviced and maintained.

Ten trusses have been supplied by Summit to Red Piano, which are being used to suspend a variety of dramatically camp scenic pieces, drapes, two side IMAG screens and a 24.5 metre wide by 8 high upstage MiTrix video screen weighing 7 tonnes.

To meet the tight gig scheduling, specific rigging, automation and lighting elements are being advance rigged on certain shows, so Wythes is working with a team of 2 riggers on the main system, plus 4 on the advance crew (2 riggers, automation and a lighting tech).

The Kinesys system is being operated by Gareth Williams, using their Vector control platform. He has 18 ½ tonne motors and two 100Kg Liftkets in the system, all controlled by Kinesys Elevation 1+ drive units. A complete extra set of Elevation 1+'s is being supplied for the advance system.

Ten of the half tonnes are used to suspend 5 letters spelling ‘E-L-T-O-N' which all fly in at the top of the show, kicked off with a flourish with Elton belting out his classic “Benny & The Jets”. The letters then make individual appearances at other points in the show. They are steel framed and were fabricated by Tait Towers in the US, constructed from a mix of wood and Perspex. All are heavily embedded with non-neon and pigmy bulb lightsources to glam them up to the requisite glitz factor.

A total of 4 motors are used to fly in the 2-piece “Love Hotel” sign, consisting of a big heart and the word ‘Hotel', which come in downstage right for “Tiny Diner” and “Your Song”.

The two 100Kg Liftkets are being used to lower in a near life sized mannequin of Elton in his campest clobber, complete with bouffant hair in the encore, just before “Your Song”.

The remaining 4 half tonnes are located stage left and right – 2 per side – and utilised to lower in some giant inflatable roses that live in the roof. These fly in and inflate for “Believe”, and are then dropped offstage and de-rigged at the end of the song.

The Summit kit is also being used to rig points for a 25ft wide pair of inflatable boobs which are a regular talking point of the show.

The tour – a derivation of the massively successful Las Vegas show - is currently scheduled to run until Christmas, with a live broadcast from the London O2 Arena at New Year.

Lighting is being supplied by PRG from the UK and sound from Swiss-based Audio Rent.

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