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STEM and Park Playhouse: making sure the show will go on

Updated: 06/18/2014 8:13 PM
Created: 06/18/2014 5:41 PM WNYT.com
By: Benita Zahn

NewsChannel 13 supports STEM education, and now we’re adding a little heat in the form of the arts -- turning STEM into steam.

The fact is, without lots of STEM, the show can't go on at Albany's Park Playhouse.

A pick up truck is at the center of the action for "Hands on a Hardbody." The first show of the season for Park Playhouse in Albany's Washington Park. However, before the actors take the stage the stage itself has to be prepared to support the vehicle and the performers.

"It's got to be a level set. So a lot of math goes into figuring out how much force is being pushed down into the ground and where the supports need to be," explains master electrician Andrew Ricci. This is just the first act of many the technical staff has to tackle.

Ricci jokes that he was never good in math in high school, but learned quickly he'd have to brush up on the subject to do his job well.

"Oh, the Pythagorean theory actually applies to this," he points out.

In fact, science, technology engineering and math apply to every aspect of building the sets and creating the sound and lighting designs. The schematics are detailed so everyone knows what must be accomplished.

"Here at the park we have 250 amps which means you can only have 30,000 watts on a leg and we have a 3 leg system for a total of 90,000 watts," explains Ricci.

Figure incorrectly and you'll blow the system. So it's not only about esthetics, but safety.

"If you mess up rigging, anything overhead, it falls. You could hurt somebody really badly. Everything, knots, you have to get it right."

In short, the only way for the show to go on is for STEM to take center stage.

Hands on a Hardbody opens July 1 and runs through July 26 at Park Playhouse in Albany's Washington Park. Most of the music was written by Trey Anastasio from PHISH.

NewsChannel 13's Benita Zahn also has a small role in the play.

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