Feature Story Sunday August 19, 2012
In The Heat of the Night
Ringdal explains what went wrong at Prospera Centre during the Mamma Mia! show
Staff/Voice file photo
Glen Ringdal (R), President of Prospera Centre and Mamma Mia producer Henry Kolenko announce Mamma Mia! at Ric's Grill last April.
hot August night was even hotter for people watching the Broadway musical Mamma Mia when they were forced to endure sweltering heat and a lack of water.
Now, Glen Ringdal, President of Prospera Centre, is facing some heat himself as he fields messages from less-than-happy patrons.
Ringdal told the Voice in a telephone interview Sunday that they did everything possible to cool the building off and deal with the water shortage.
"I've been getting e-mails from fans who are very, very disgruntled and unhappy and I don't blame them. It felt very tough in there"
A number of factors were responsible. Earlier in the afternoon, as the mercury raced past 30°C, eventually hitting the 34°C mark, the show's trucks arrived and had to be unloaded.
When the big bay doors were opened, hot air rushed in to smother an already overworked air conditioning system.
"If we hadn't had the doors open all day, it would have been fine and we would've been able to handle it, but there was no choice," Ringdal said.
By show time it wasn't any cooler. In fact, with the body heat from around 2000 fans thrown into the mix, the building got even warmer.
Then to make matters worse, the concessions ran out of bottled water and resorted to handing out ice water by the glassful.
"It's too bad the show just wasn't one day later. It was 14 degrees cooler on Saturday", said Ringdal.
He said the air conditioners are on all the time in the building, but once the big doors are opened they are less effective.
"They just couldn't keep up. We'd have to have air conditioners the size of locomotives."
Ringdal said they were told that the air in the ceiling height was probably about 130°F.
"The floor was actually the coolest spot. The suites were very hot, much hotter than on the floor, but it was uncomfortable in the extreme anywhere in the building."
According to Ringdal, the performers backstage were slightly cooler because the rink next door had the doors opened and cooler air was allowed in there.
Ringdal said they took learned some lessons and plan to ensure it doesn't happen again.
"Eventually the air conditioners caught up, but what it tells me is we have to develop an alternate plan in such a case for the loading in of the building so we don't have this happen again," he said.
Unfortunately the promoter has indicated there won't be any refunds.
It was quite a blow to Prospera Centre when you think that Ringdal is trying to promote big shows in the city.
"This was a chance to show off a little bit and we have the ability to draw a good show like this into town and entertain the people of Chilliwack"
Ringdal struck down any issues over floor seating and not being able to see the stage.
"It was exactly the same as every other arena. It's not a theatre. It's an arena. But if you go to Rogers Arena or the Coliseum, it's exactly the same and its the same height but they are arranged in such a way as to alternate the viewing channel so you don't look right at the back of the head of the guy in front of you. You look through an angle. They're "ganged", so they stay together so that they don't wander around. They're the top level chairs for this kind of purpose."
He said the show was wonderful.
"This is a big time Broadway production and it's on its last part of basically a ten year tour."
The next stop for the entourage was Penticton for two shows and then on to Wisconsin for what will be the final few shows of the tour.
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