Transforming Buxton Opera House stage into a winter wonderland for Snow White On Ice

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Tickets are selling fast for a special Snow White on Ice show which will see Buxton Opera House stage turned into a winter wonderland next week for breath-taking skating from The Russian Ice Stars.

We talked to Guy Dunk, Buxton Opera House’s Technical Manager about the incredible feat of transforming the Edwardian theatre’s stage into an ice rink...

How far in advance do you need to start preparing the stage ready for the performance?

On Monday, prior to the first performance on Wednesday evening, we install a scaffolding structure to level out the rake (sloping stage).

It’s difficult to imagine how you would create an ice rink so quickly; can you run through the transformation process?

On Tuesday morning (9am), the Snow White technical staff arrive with two 45ft trailers, containing scenery, costumes, lighting equipment together with the ice rink and ice making plant.

The rink is then installed: two 15mx15m industrial pool liners are laid on the stage and side supports from wood are built to create a large but shallow swimming pool.

Inside the pool, 15km of a special flexible rubber pipe is laid and connected to a header system which is connected to two chiller units on the back of the wet truck.

The cooling pipes are filled with refrigerant and the cooling equipment is then switched on – it resembles a giant radiator lying flat on the stage.

Water is sprayed over the pipes to make the ice surface, which takes about 15 hours, working overnight.

How do you preserve the ice?

The ice making plant runs 24/7. The surface needs maintenance each day, scraping out the furrows caused by the skater’s blades and then spraying more water on to renew the surface.

How do you go about removing the ice, how long does it take for the company to get out of the theatre?

The cooling plant is switched off and then the surface is broken up withwooden poles with handles.

The ice is then loaded into wheelbarrows and emptied in the closed section of Water Street. It is expected to take about six hours.

Why should people come and see Snow White on Ice? The show features thrilling skating, lush costumes and sets, plus some cunning theatrical effects.

* Snow White on Ice is at Buxton from February 11 to February 15.