Sort of like running a marathon, you have to stop and catch your breath at the end of the annual Backstage event at LDI. This year’s Backstage Las Vegas (October 20-23) was as fast-paced as always, with tours and performances from Jersey Boys at Palazzo and Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian to the Stomp Out Loud theatre and Theatre of the Performing Arts at Planet Hollywood to the new Cirque du Soleil show with Criss Angel at Luxor. Sponsors for Backstage Las Vegas 2008 include 4Wall Entertainment Ligthting and Wybron.
One of the primary hosts for this year’s Backstage was Steven Ehrenberg, vice president for technical production at Base Entertainment—purveyors of theatrical productions including the Vegas versions of Jersey Boys and the spectacular 90-minute Phantom ‘The Las Vegas Spectacular.’ Steven is a wonderful speaker, the perfect blend of knowledgeable and funny as he explains how the various theatres and shows came about. At the Jersey Boys Q&A and tour, a special guest was Tony Award-winning LD Howell Binkley, who flew in just to be part of Backstage.
Other stops along the Backstage trail included Cherry, a nightclub at the Red Rock casino, with lighting by Steve Lieberman, who was there to put the system through its paces; and a quick stop at the Blue Man Group at the Venetian, to listen to part of their sound check and get a quick rundown on the theatre from technical director Andrew Cappelli. The group also made a trip over to The Palms, where they were quite impressed with the new Pearl concert venue. Production manager Jed DeFilippis and his crew put on a great demo of the sound, video, and lighting system, with Steve Pollock of theatre consultants Auerbach, Pollock, Freidlander on hand to talk about their work on the project.
From watching the chandelier swing through its pre-set and crash modes at Phantom, to touring every nook and cranny of the theatres, Backstage (upstage, under the stage, above the stage in catwalks and grids, and domes over the audience) offers unparalleled access to various facilities. Interestingly, approximately 80% of the attendees had attended Backstage in the past, and represent a varied international group from as far away as Colombia, Mexico, and Australia; many of whom come every year or at least every two years, and are already looking forward to Backstage Orlando in 2009. A big round of applause goes to all of the hosting theatres and their crews for making Backstage such a rewarding experiece: "One of the most interesting things about Backstage," says lighting designer Jamie Burnett, who has attended Backstage at least six times, "is meeting the other attendees and discovering their focus of attention on what we are looking at, and how they take that back to their theatre, their school, their classroom, their production company.. they are all looking at it from another angle, getting new ideas and seeing how they can relate what they have seen to their own experience."