Forty very lucky people have been spending the week on a whirlwind tour of the theatres, dimmer rooms, show control rooms, catwalks, and grids of Las Vegas as part of LDI2004’s Backstage Las Vegas experience!

Backstage Las Vegas got underway on Monday evening with a performance of the new Americanized version of We Will Rock You! at Paris Las Vegas. With production design by Mark Fisher and Willie Williams, a large element of the scenic concept is video run via MAC G5s and High End Systems Catalyst media servers, with a moving array of very bright LED screens. A post-show panel discussion was led by associate company manager CJ Dillon, video engineer Karm Sandhu, and various department heads for the show, including head electrician, Ron Konsur.

On Tuesday, the intrepid Backstage group put in a 17-hour day, staring with a backstage tour of the new Borg Invasion — with its cool 4-D film — at the Star Trek Experience (as well as the original Klingon Encounter). Chris Conte of Electrosonic and Len Turner, the on-site technical manager for Paramount Parks (producer of the attraction) led the tour.

An afternoon tour of the Celine Dion theatre at Caesar’s Palace was slightly delayed due to an unscheduled recording session by Elton John, who is currently performing there (but seeing him and his adorable Springer Spaniel on stage was worth the wait). Assistant lighting director, Jon Farber, head of automation, Tim Sloane, and head of video, Richard Stout led the tour.

Next stop was Masquerade Village at the Rio for the Mardi Gras show in the sky. After a look at the new technology just installed to update the show, most of the group actually rode in the show floats high above the casino floor. Thanks to Michael Paulin, production manager at the Rio, and technical engineer Jason Goldenberg of PRG Lighting for sharing their knowledge.

Happy hour was in the I-Bar, a circular bar area where the cocktail waitresses dance atop Plexiglas tables lit from below with Color Kinetics LEDs, and Catalysts project video onto plasma screens around the exterior of the space. The final event of the day was a performance of Zumanity at Cirque du Soleil’s theatre in New York New York (great fun sitting in the front row, you are almost in the show… well you ARE in the show!) A post show discussion, moderated by operations director Nancy Mallette and the illustrious Jeanette Farmer, featured lighting designer Luc Lafortune and sound designer Jonathan Deans, as well as technicians and department heads from the show. At 2:00am the group straggled back to the bus from the post-show party…. Only to be back at the bus stop by noon on Wednesday for day three of an experience that can only be had at Backstage Las Vegas!

-Ellen Lampert-Greaux