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The 15-truck backstage story of 'Wicked'
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sets for most touring Broadway musicals arrive at downtown Salt Lake City's Capitol Theatre in a handful of semi-trucks loaded into the theater over the course of one day.

"Wicked," you might have guessed, isn't like most touring Broadway musicals.

"We've got three semi-trucks coming July 16, with 11 more July 17," said Tom Bryce, technical director at Capitol Theatre. "Then there's two more driving up for July 18. That should finish it off."

About the only touring Broadway show to top "Wicked" is "Phantom of The Opera" with its 21 trucks, Bryce said.

Still, only "Wicked" has the unique distinction of leaving a permanent mark on Capitol Theatre. When it first played Salt Lake City in 2009, the show's additional proscenium was so heavy it required additional I-beams on stage. Structural engineers were brought in, steel was purchased, and all was welded into place for the show's massive Victorian sets and flying characters, seen through the scenic framework of a giant clock. Eugene Lee, the show's scenic designer, rightly won a 2004 Emmy for his work.

"We had to beef up our steel just to hang their proscenium," Bryce said. "In terms of sheer weight, it's one of the heaviest hanging shows there is. It was a big improvement to the theater actually. This time around, we're ready for them."

Bryce, technical theater at Capitol since 1995, said a show's size doesn't necessarily mean more complications. Touring Broadway productions are designed for quick efficient set-ups and break-downs.

At 100 years old, he said Capitol Theatre's biggest challenge is maintaining air-conditioning through the current, blistering summer, based on a system designed in the 1970s.

Salt Lake County, which owns and operates the facility, is planning in a $33.4 million project to renovate the theater next year, with expanded lobby and upgraded bathrooms, along with constructing the adjacent Jessie Eccles Quinney Center for Dance.

How the musical, with its heavy sets, left a permanent mark on the Capitol Theatre.
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