One of the things I love most about my job as the rentals manager at Gateway Set Rentals is that I get to help mount productions all over the country. We offer our clients Broadway-inspired, professionally designed and constructed set and prop packages at a fraction of the cost of building them. One of our rental sets can add magic to any performance, but if you’ve never rented a set before, there are some things you should know to help you get the most out of the experience.
About Our Sets
Most of our rental sets were built for productions at The Gateway, but some were bought from tours or other theaters; some even incorporate pieces from Broadway productions. In general, they fit in one semi-trailer, although some larger shows may require two or more trailers. It will be easiest to get our sets into your theater on a loading dock through a trailer-height door, but most of our sets will break down small enough to be loaded-in through a set of double doors (without the center brace), although that might take a little longer (or require more hands to get the job done quickly).
When you contact us about a rental, we’ll provide you with a rental packet and will be able to answer any questions you might have about the set, but we’re relying on you to…
Know Your Theater
We can tell you about our sets for days, but if you don’t know what any of that means in the context of your theater, it’s not going to help you very much. It’s best to involve your technical director early in the process, and be sure to share with us anything that might create a challenge at the load-in. Our set for Peter Pan, for example, comes with pieces that are too large to fit through a double-door, and no one likes finding out on the day of load-in that they’re going to have to leave Neverland on the truck.
The more you can tell us about your theater, the easier it is for us to help you address concerns before they become problems, even if that means figuring out early on that our set isn’t the right choice for your production. Our set for Phantom, for example, is large and needs to be bolted to your stage floor and walls; if you’re unable to do that, you will not be able to use it properly. Even when our set is not the best choice for your theater, it’s better for us to figure that out early on in your process so we can discuss some other options (like a drop rental). This is why it’s important for you to…
In the afore-mentioned Peter Pan example, knowing that a piece of Neverland won’t fit into your theater months, or even weeks in advance will give you enough time to come up with an alternate plan that we may be able to assist with: after the set’s arrived at your venue, it’s usually too late for either of us to do much about it. A ten minute conversation early in the process can often save hours of labor (and a lot of money) later on, so it’s best to start the conversation sooner rather than later.
I’ll send you a link to a rental packet when you ask for a quote, but if you have questions about anything in the packet, or feel like you need some more information, it’s important to let us know as soon as possible. While we don’t always have the original schematics to accompany our sets (this tends to be true of sets we’ve purchased), we can generally supply some extra photos of specific pieces you have questions about.
It’s also very important to reference the photos included with the rental packet, or subsequent photos we send you, and not photos you may find elsewhere. An Internet search for Gateway’s production of Grease would lead you to images from our most recent production, which featured a Greased Lightning that we rented from an outside vendor, not the Greased Lightning that comes with our rental package.
Rental Sets Still Take Work to Install
Although our sets will fit into venues of a variety of shapes and sizes, they will take time and effort to be custom-fit into your venue. If you build your own sets someplace other than your theater, you already know a little bit about this: they take to work to install.
Our minimum crew requirement is 10 able-bodied adults who have a reasonable knowledge of theatrical tools and practices for each day of load-in and load-out. We’ll be sure to let you know if the install is usually shorter than that, or if it requires anything extra. Having the right number of people, and planning the right amount of time, for both the load-in and -out will make the day easier for everyone.
It’s also important to make sure you have the right tools (and enough of them), to put the set together. We generally presume that you will have wrenches, hammers, screw guns, fasteners, tape, tie-line, and other common tools and expendables on hand for the load in. If there’s anything specific you’ll need that is not included with the rental, we’ll be sure to tell you early on in the process.
Much as we do everything possible to give you a perfect set, your rental set will need some touch ups when it arrives. The process of taking a set apart, and loading and shipping it, will lead to some normal wear and tear, which may not be apparent until installed in your venue. These repairs are generally minor, and our on-site technician will be able to help you affect them quickly and easily.
Be In Touch
If something about the set is less than satisfactory, please let me know quickly. Like I said before, I enjoy that I get to help make theatre all over the country, and it’s important to me that you have a good experience with us. If you are not satisfied with the set, please notify me immediately, and I will do whatever I can to rectify the situation. I also love hearing about how your show went, so please keep in touch after your rental (and I always appreciate pictures).
I hope this brief guide helps make your rental experience a smooth one. Please feel free to be in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more about renting any of our sets, drops, or specialty props!