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Behind the scenes: The Alabama Theatre

by Mandy Shunnarah  • 

Patrons of The Alabama Theatre know it to be a glamorous place, but there is a lot of dirty work that goes into running such a regal theatre and not every part of the theatre is as beautiful as what the audience sees. Take a look at these behind the scenes photos and appreciate the work that goes into putting on a show at The Alabama Theatre.

“If it weren’t for the Mighty Wurlitzer organ, the theatre wouldn’t be here today. In the 80s they wanted to level this place and make it a parking lot,” said Brant Beene, General Manager of The Alabama Theatre.

Ever wonder where the Wurlitzer goes when it sinks into the stage? A mechanical system lowers the organ into the orchestra pit.

“If we took the covering down, the audience could see into the orchestra pit, but we keep the covering up to enlarge the stage,” explained Beene.

On each side of the stage, hidden from the audience, are multiple sets of pulleys used to lower and raise the projector screen, backdrops, and lights.

Towering above the stage is “the grid,” aptly named because that is where the pulleys on both sides of the stage intersect. Although very dangerous, workers must weave their way through the grid to change light bulbs or to replace ropes in the pulley system.

“That’s the crawl space under the seats. All the brightly colored trash you see are leftovers from The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Beene said.

This is a typical dressing room at The Alabama Theatre. Unlike what patrons might expect, the dressing rooms are utilitarian.

“Many stars prefer stripped down dressing rooms. Bill Cosby commented on that when he was here,” said Beene.

“These steel doors are used to close areas off to keep fire from spreading,” Beene explained.

These are the keys one of the maintenance men carries. He said that’s not all the keys, but those are all the ones that he can hold on his belt loop!

These are the compression engines that it takes to cool the theatre.

“The theatre is cooled by a huge, slow-turning fan. If the fan spun too fast, you wouldn’t be able to hear the performance,” said Beene.

Although the fan is not easily viewed, the size of the fan belt gives some indication.

“This is where the stars enter the theatre,” Beene said.

An up-close window view of the iconic Alabama Theatre sign.

For more information about The Alabama Theatre, visit their website, Facebook, and Twitter. For information about events, including the classic summer movie series and Harry Potter showings, check out their calendar.

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Magic City Post will pause for a moment starting at 8:30am on Friday, December 21st in remembrance of victims of gun violence in Connecticut and also here in our own community. By the end of 2012, at least 56 Birminghamians will have died in gun-related homicides. We pray for peace, love and healing for all.