Fun Facts about the Ohio Theatre’s Chandelier

Flying horses, shooting sparks and other surprising tidbits about the historic venue’s stunning fixture

Peter Tonguette
Scott Hinch, with Local 12 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, cleans the top of the massive chandelier in the Ohio Theatre. The fixture was lowered June 14 for cleaning and so light bulbs could be replaced. The process generally happens every two years but was postponed during the pandemic.

If the Ohio Theatre looks a tad brighter this summer, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. In addition to a renovation completed in May, CAPA, which manages the 93-year-old venue, lowered its main chandelier in mid-June for a multiday cleaning—its first since 2018. 

Staff members gave the 21-foot-high, 11-foot-wide, crystal-bedecked, candelabra-adorned fixture a thorough polish, including the replacement of some of its 339 lightbulbs. Here are some fun facts about the chandelier, which will light the way as patrons return in greater numbers. 

Related:The Other Columbus: Ohio Theatre is world-class even with the lights out

Workers can walk on it. During the cleaning, the chandelier is lowered just above the balcony seats, but to enable workers to reach high spots, the 2.5-ton fixture can withstand a person’s weight. “I will throw my rappelling harness on, climb up onto the first set of arms and strap myself in,” says vice president of operations Jason Gay.

The giant lamp almost outshone Hollywood. In the late 2000s, audiences noticed sparks flying from the chandelier during an intermission in the CAPA Summer Movie Series. “The original paper insulation had worn away enough that it was shorting out against the frame of the chandelier,” Gay says. After the movie series ended, workers rewired the whole thing. 

One of the flying horses that grace the Ohio Theatre chandelier.

Watch out for flying horses. According to theater lore, architect Thomas Lamb was dissatisfied with the original design. Somehow, the chandelier still wasn’t ostentatious enough. In response, Gay says, the lighting designer complained that he’d put everything on it he possibly could—except flying horses. Thus came one of the fixture’s most notable features: horses protruding from its arms. Gay says, “It is the showpiece of the auditorium.” 

This story is from the August 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.