Center Theatre Group, The Music Center, and the Ahmanson Theatre staff and crew mourn the loss of Ahmanson Flyman Andy Arnold. He ran the theatre’s fly system backstage and was responsible for flying scenery onto and off the stage. During most productions, he could be found perched on the Ahmanson’s rail, operating battens and holding hundreds of pounds of scenery over actors’ heads using a system of counterweights.
Before joining I.A.T.S.E. Local 33, Andy was a longtime and valued member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 44. Prior to coming onboard at the Ahmanson, he ran special effects for the TV show Survivor and before that for CBS.
Andy worked on approximately 40 productions at the Ahmanson from 2005 – 2016, becoming a full-time staff member in 2009. His first show as a crew member at the Ahmanson was Dead End, and his first show as Flyman was Spring Awakening. Other notable productions he worked on included the World premieres of 9 to 5: The Musical and Leap of Faith as well as the pre-Broadway runs of The Drowsy Chaperone and Curtains.
Ahmanson Head Carpenter Shawn Anderson said that Leap of Faith was particularly intense and challenging for Andy, who supervised a crew on the rail for the show that was in charge of moving extremely heavy pieces of scenery. “It was one of our more difficult rail shows,” said Anderson, “and he was able to come up with solutions. He was innovative in solving the difficulty of the show.”
Such innovation was typical of Andy. “He took pride in his work. Any time he could improve upon a situation—that was his main motivation,” said Anderson. “If there was something that maybe was a bit of a hindrance or a hang-up, a week later he’d come to me with a drawing, and say, ‘Look at this, maybe we should think about doing this.’”
His ingenuity and eagerness to help weren’t limited to his work. “It wasn’t like you had to say, ‘Hey Andy, can you help me with this?’” said Technical Director and Ahmanson Production Manager Joe Hamlin. “He would see that you needed help, and he would just take care of it. He was an all-around good guy.”
“He loved helping people,” added Anderson.
Andy was part of a crew that worked long hours, nights, and weekends at the theatre. Ahmanson Prop Man Stan Steelmon was quick to praise Andy as “a great flyman and a great stagehand” whose craftsmanship “was unsurpassed.” But he also talked about him as a man who “always had a smile on his face. He was such a nice guy,” said Steelmon. He would volunteer to help colleagues outside of work using his welding and construction skills. And he always had knowledge to offer, whether it was what prop to use to make corn on the cob steam onstage (a humidifier) or the benefits of buying organic meat. “He was a renaissance man,” added Steelmon.