the phantom of 'Phantom' toils
Don Adcock, who grew up in
Shenandoah, Iowa, works the scenery-moving machinery for "Phantom of the
Opera," now playing in Omaha.
He's called the automation carpenter
But what Don
Adcock does for the Broadway touring company of "Phantom of the Opera"
doesn't involve hammers, saws or nails. He's one of two guys who operate
the computers that control the show's scenery.
Perched 30 feet above stage left in an equipment rig, Adcock relies on
infrared cameras that pierce the dark. "I can't really see what goes on
down there," he explained.
You might wonder how a guy from Shenandoah, Iowa, ends up in a job like
For Adcock, who will turn 48 while in Omaha with "Phantom," it hasn't so
much been a career path as one thing leading to the next.
finishing high school in 1978, he joined the Air Force, where he studied
After the service, he got his degree in telecommunicative arts at Iowa
State University. While in Ames, he was a sound technician for shows at
the Maintenance Shop and a stagehand at the Fisher Theater, C.Y. Stevens
Auditorium and Hilton Coliseum.
At the nearby Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, a sound man recognized
Adcock's abilities, took a yearlong leave and handed Adcock his job.
While Adcock worked at Audio Visions Sound Co. in Omaha, jazzman Harry
Connick Jr. came to town. Connick's people hired him to stage manage, a
gig that lasted five years.
Work at the Civic Center and other professional networking helped him land
jobs working on the movie "Twister"; doing advance automation for the
musical "Miss Saigon"; and touring as head of sound for River dance, a
Work contacts also led to "Phantom," a job he's had for a year. The
touring company is performing at the Orpheum in Omaha through February 24.
"This job is completely different from sound, which is what I've mostly
done," Adcock said. "With sound, I was out in the audience. Now I'm
pigeonholed into a service truss."
But his dad was a mechanic, so he has a good aptitude for keeping things
Adcock, who is single, says married life would not mesh with his road job.
He owns property near Essex, Iowa, so he's staying in his own home while
"Phantom" plays here. His parents, Marvin and Jackie, and his 93-year-old
grandmother, Hilda Adcock of Farragut, Iowa, will see the show while it's
"I'm beginning to ask myself about my path in the future," he said. "It's
not getting any easier. Each time we change cities, we do two Sunday
shows, then a 14-hour load-out, then hit the road, then do the load-in and
rehearsal at the next city."
The moves are brutal, he said, but it's what he knows. Work has enabled
him to see not only America but the world.
"And I still enjoy seeing an empty space turned into a show. Unloading
those 18 semi trucks is like choreography."
Omaha World Herald
February 15, 2008