The Wizard of Oz (1992)

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In 1991, ten years after the first performance of Wizard (back at my high school), Bill contacted me yet again needing help with a play. He was doing The Wizard of Oz again and needed flashpots, etc. - except this time, we were doing it at The Palace Theater. Bill had become guest director for a volunteer organization called Pleasure Guild of Children's Hospital. This organization puts on a play each year as a fund raiser for our local Childrens Hospital.

As it turned out, I had a rare chance to create explosions on a professional stage. I built both new flash pots and a flash controller.

My time at DeVry paid off - I designed and built circuit boards for the various parts of the system.

For this version of the play (written by Bill Gathergood), I put together a flashpot controller. The controller was designed to operate relays using a wired remote from well over 100 feet away. The reason I chose to operate relays was to allow the controller to be used for other things as well. Relays are also much safer than "electronic switches" etc. The control panel on the unit had eight channels allowing you to fire up to eight flashpots. A safety key and arming switches were added to further the safety of the unit. The control panel was linked via a 5 pin cable to two (2) remote boxes with four channels each. The remote boxes operated off house current and had a power supply that also operated the control panel. The flashpots themselves operated off a 3 volt supply battery through the relays. A nichrome wire was used as the trigger. Common flash powder was used for the flashes themselves.

The flashpots were "lavatory funnels" re-designed with a small well for the flash powder and a set of screws for the nichrome trigger wire. Plaster was used to fill the funnels to make them solid. They were linked to the remote boxes using common zip cord. A battery was used as a trigger voltage.

I also brought in a couple crew members to help with some of the backstage work. Brad Law & Mitch Haff helped with both the reloading of flash pots, smoke machine, etc.

I also helped with the buildinmg of the set. We used giant corrgurated drain tubes for part of the set, along with drops ordered from Schell Scenic Studio. We also ordered a smoke machine for the witch melting.

A couple of things to note:

One of the set pieces was built with knee cut-outs so an actor could