Unusual Rigging & Engineering 'in the room where it happens' as Hamilton plays at the Etihad Arena

8th March 2024

Unusual Rigging & Engineering were the riggers of choice when the international touring production of Hamilton landed in the UAE earlier this year for a six week stint at the Etihad Arena. The hit show follows the story of Americas Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, as he helps shape the nation. With a booked based on Ron Chernow’s biography,music & lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Set by David Korans, Lighting by Howell Binkley & Sound by Nevin Steinberg the award winning technical combination presents a formable stage production.
“We travel the physical production, from country to country, in 16 x 40’ High Cube sea containers,” explains Richard Martin production manager. “Taking up to 4 days to install, venue conditions pending, we see the cast onstage within a week. The set, props & stage automation were all manufactured in the USA, costumes/wigs from Australia, along with Australian supplied lighting & audio packages”
When presenting Hamilton in an arena venue, extra detail is taken into account to ensure audiences get  as close to an ‘in theatre’ experience as possible. This includes closing down the arena with a carefully placed drape line, adjusting the equipment choice for audio, adding in lights and adding significant rigging to enable the show to be rigged as it would in a theatre.
Richard continued: “I have had the good fortune to work with URE on theatre projects in London’s West End and also when we were last at the Etihad arena presenting The Lion King in theatre mode, so they were the obvious choice for Hamilton. We emailed across a rigging plan, then worked with the team on site to go over all requirements in close detail. As URE knows the Etihad Arena roof intimately, getting to the point of an agreed rigging plan was not complicated at all. With them on hand to supply, not only rigging staff but all the additional motors & kit required we were able to install Hamilton on time, on budget & without stress.”
With the load in taking four days, the URE team installed 170 points – the majority of which were in a 12m x 12m performance space with some of the flown elements only having 10mm clearance on either side. More than 80 hoists were supplied along with the trussing and control equipment, as well as a team of four riggers to assist with the build.
One of the biggest challenges in presenting Hamilton in ‘theatre mode’ is to ensure that it doesn’t  look like the musical has been pushed down one end of the arena and a few black cloths rigged to close down the space. Careful planning goes into placement of not only the set rigging but also the placement of the drape line, FOH PA & lighting. URE was instrumental in assisting both Richard and the Hamilton design team to achieve this.
While the show weighs in at just over 32,000kg suspended off the venue roof structure, the rigging challenge is that, being a theatre stage design, it must all rig in a relatively small footprint. Richard continued: “URE took our rigging needs & worked through the engineering calculations to ensure we were not overloading the venue sub grid and completed the work in a straightforward, tight but timely manner.”
He concluded: “I cannot speak highly enough of the diligence & professionalism URE present. The entire team carried out the scope without fuss. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. The way they conduct themselves and carry out their duties should be commended.”

Click for larger view