When the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra plays at Minnesota's Ordway Theater, they do it inside the orchestra shell—a massive, mahogany-paneled, three-walled room that sits on the stage. But the Ordway hosts more than just orchestra, so the shell has to be movable. It's no easy task. The back wall, alone, weighs 70 tons. How do they do it?
Turns out, the entire orchestra shell is a hovercraft.
Each wall is equipped with air casters that help lift them off the ground. A soap and water solution is sprayed on the floor to keep the it slippery when the wall touches down, and to ensure the walls move at an even pace, a couple stage crew members guide motorized palette jacks like slow motion motorcycles.
Minnesota Sounds: Ordway Theater
Full Minnesota Sounds series