Behind The Scenes at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

The 2018-19 Broadway in Orlando season has just concluded at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and as we look forward to the 2019-20 season, we thought we’d go behind the scenes and give you a glimpse of what actually goes on!

Dr. Phillip Phillips is the namesake of the performing arts center and the Dr. Phillips Center is within walking distance of the house Dr. Phillips and his wife Della owned on Lucerne Circle in Orlando. The couple hosted many concerts, bringing acclaimed musicians from around the world to play on their front lawn for the entire community to enjoy. The above pictured poster is taken from an article on Dr. Phillips and his family in The Tampa Daily Times on 8th April 1939 and is on display as you enter through to the current Green Room from the Stage Door.

Construction of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts began in June 2011 with the building opening on 6th November 2014 at approximately 330,000 gross square feet on a 9 acre site. As you can see from the photo at the top, the Steinmetz Hall is currently being built and it will hopefully be opened sometime in 2020. Once complete the facility will allow guests to enjoy a range of “unplugged” local, national and international artists in all-new, one-of-a-kind performance spaces.

These spaces will then complete what will then be the 698,312-square-foot Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts building and will comprise of three theaters, intimate performance space, a grand lobby , rehearsal rooms, classrooms, event space, administrative offices, rooftop terrace, a public plaza, and production and support.

The main stage at the Walt Disney Theater

Touring the building gives a fascinating perspective of how much planning went into the facility and just how much work went into constructing one of the most iconic landmarks in Orlando. As you go behind the scenes you lose your sense of direction as one corridor leads you into another space that is essential to hosting a Broadway stage production or a concert. Once you make it to the stage, you instantly become aware of just how large it really is. Some 6,000 square feet of space allows enough room for even the most dramatic of production and it really does amaze you how well thought out each nut and bolt actually is!

The view from above the stage shows how props are hung and the equipment utilized to do so.

Every nook and cranny serves a purpose and you also become aware that safety first is a top priority to ensure cast members, production members and audience members are kept from harms way.

The two holes towards the rear had to be specially bored through the concrete to thread the wires that held the chandelier from Phantom of the Opera

The main Walt Disney Theater has 2,731 seats and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The first Broadway production to play the Walt Disney Theater was Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of The Phantom of the Opera and it was interesting to see how the famous 1500 pound chandelier containing more than 6,000 crystals and 50 pyro elements was actually hung.

A view from above the stage and how things are hung to come from above or sideways onto the main stage.

The 2019/20 Broadway season promises to be the best yet as nine shows will make their way to Orlando. Les Misérables will kick off the season in October and Disney’s Aladdin, Mean Girls, Miss Saignon and My Fair Lady will play before Beautiful: The Carole King Musical rounds things off.

One of the lobby areas.

As you look around, you note some of 3,321 tons of steel that were involved in Phase 1 of construction as well as tonnes and tonnes of concrete. It’s not hard to imagine why the building cost nearly $400 million when you look at the scale and size of things not to mention the actual materials used.

View from the front of the building.

The building design is eye catching and with the tallest point of the building’s exterior being 103 feet, 7 inches you get a real sense that some special things happen within. 400 construction workers were on site daily employed by 69 local Florida companies and they truly built something remarkable.

Imagine being on stage and this is your audience…

More photos from behind the scenes:

The Green Room … look closely at the ceiling… you’ll see a playing card. A magician entertained the Doobie Brothers after their show… the card one of them picked remains there as a memento.

A close up of said card.

The stage and just some of the equipment being used.

The equipment on the other side of the stage.

A room most visitors will never see…. it takes a lot of air conditioning to keep this building cool… and it also houses a winch system.

The “Catwalk” above the stage… easy access to hang lighting.

… because lighting is so important.

A secondary catwalk… the “Lighting Bridge” closer to the stage and perhaps the best seat in the house?

Another view of the Lighting Bridge

Next time you are in the Walt Disney Theater look up… you will see the catwalk and the lighting. You may not have noticed before!

Handles and levers everywhere help control the ascent and descent of stage props.

The view from the stage when you look up.

Getting trucks into the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is essential… here’s where it happens.

We hope you enjoyed this tour behind the scenes. More behind the scenes photographs are available at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com as well as from opening day in 2014.

Our “thanks” go to all the wonderful staff and volunteers who make this facility so great and who allowed us to tour the building. Thank you!

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