"Music Hall: The Next Movement" is television at its best – taking viewers to places they could never see otherwise.
Thanks to WCET-TV, viewers can travel through time to watch the $135-million Music Hall renovation from the removal of the seats and treasured artwork 17 months ago through the grand re-opening last month in the one-hour program (9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, Channel 48).
Videographers Richard Wonderling and Don Hancock take viewers from the bottom to the top of the 1878 building – from the dank, dark basement to the scaffolding workers used for detail work on the ceiling of Springer Auditorium and Corbett Tower.
They actually go beyond the walls, thanks to cool drone shots of the roof and building exterior. And they take us to St. Louis, so we can see employees of the Antique Lighting Co. clean, restore and rewire the 22-foot wide Music Hall chandelier.
"Music Hall: The Next Movement" delivers great, grand pictures – the Springer Auditorium floor completely filled with scaffolding for the ceiling work, and restoration of the Corbett Tower windows. It also shows the tiniest of details, like the ceiling stencil pattern and the first floor column caps designs. But no pig hairs.
Yes, pig hairs were found in the original 1878 wall plaster hauled out of the building last year right here in Porkopolis.
"Little, short, stubby, coarse pig hairs were in the plaster. That tells you a story about Cincinnati," says historic preservationist Thea Tjepkema in the film.
Hancock crossed Central Parkway from CET's headquarters almost every week to observe demolition and construction. He and Wonderling shot hundreds of hours of video for the 60-minute show, which will repeat on WCET-TV and CET Arts (Channel 48.3) through December.
The Music Hall TV program presented several challenges: The guys have never filmed in a (very) active construction site before. And they're used to completing video projects in a few weeks, not 18 months. The fast pace of the work – the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra only wanted to miss one season in the hall – kept the guys on their toes keeping up with changes, or with Messer senior project manager Mike Hess.
"Mike Hess would just take off and visit every part of Music Hall. It wasn't easy keeping up with him in the basement, with all the pipes and puddles and wires, and you're looking through your camera lens and can't see where you're stepping," Wonderling says.
Narrating the program is Cincinnati native Dan Nachtrab, an Oregon-based voice-over artist whose credits include "Wicked Tuna: North vs. South," "Big Pacific," "Destination Wild: Indonesia," "Hurricane 360" and "Tornado 360," His "$1-million voice," as Wonderling puts it, has been heard on CBS, NBC, Fox, the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild.
CET hasn't made many documentaries in recent years. This one took 18 months to make, but it's definitely worth the wait. Bravo!
"Music Hall: The Next Movement" repeats on CET (Channel 48) at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19; and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24.
It also airs on CET Arts (Channel 48.3) at 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20; 9 p.m. Sunday Dec. 24; 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Christmas; and 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26.