On Wednesday, April 12, Martina McBride kicked off her Waking Up Laughing tour in Kansas City, MO. This is the third time that McBride called upon Atomic Design, Inc. to design her touring concert set. Atomic Design’s Tom McPhillips is the production designer for the tour. He says, “It has been a great experience working with Martina and John McBride over the years. For each tour, we have taken a completely direction. On the Timeless tour in 2006, the set had a nostalgic and theatrical feel. The design this year is a complete departure using video, projection, LED displays, and lighting rather than scenery to produce a spectacle that’s right on the cutting edge of current show technology.”

Using one of Barco’s newest products, the Mitrix module, McPhillips’ design called for groundbreaking motorized video louvers that open and close to reveal graphics programming and full video content. When no lighting is applied, the louvers become virtually transparent, allowing for lighting to work behind and through the panels. Set into a structural grid, which forms a huge curving structure than spans the entire stage, the video louvers wrap around a central rear projection screen. Additionally, elevators are built into ramps that extend the stage across the width of the arena floor, enabling Martina to appear or exit on either side.

To produce the hanging and mechanical system for the louvers, Atomic called upon Setco in Nashville. The Mitrix panels are a brand new product, and Martina is one of the first acts in the US to tour with this state-of-the-art technology, “We’ve worked with Brad, Jimmy, and Kenny at Setco on many projects over the years. They are wonderful collaborators and always turn out a top-notch product. Since the video panel system was so new, we needed a high level of prototyping to be sure that the concepts worked. Luckily Setco have built up considerable expertise in the area of installing custom video elements and the result was a sturdy but elegant solution that will tour well.”

Returning for a second year, Abigail Rosen-Holmes was asked by the McBride’s to serve as the lighting designer for the production. Atomic has worked with Rosen-Holmes on several projects in the past, including the Timeless tour in 2006. As McPhillips says, “It’s always a delight to work with Abbey. She is one of the most talented designers around. She is not only very creative, with great taste, but most important for a project like this, has the capability to completely assimilate the technology in order to really get the most out of its potential.”

McBride’s tour is set to hit more than 45 US cities from April to August. The tour promotes her new album Waking Up Laughing, which she solo-produced. McBride is nominated for a 2007 Grammy award in the “Best Female County Vocal Performance” category for “I Still Miss Someone” from her 2006 Timeless album.

Vendor List
Production Designer: Tom McPhillips, Atomic Design, Inc.
Art Director: Conway Allison, Atomic Design, Inc.
Scenic Engineering & Soft Goods: Atomic Design, Inc.
Scenic Fabrication: Setco
Lighting Designer: Abigail Rosen Holmes
Video: MooTV
Lighting Vendor: Bandit Lights