Behind the glitz, glamour, and Cirque du Soleil, there are thousands of people backstage in Las Vegas who make it all happen every night, sometimes two or three times a night. ED asked you to let us know who some of these backstage mavens were and you responded in kind. This is only the tip of the ice sculpture of all the hard workers who relentlessly toil to get the shows, concerts, tradeshows, exhibits, etc. up and running smoothly; our hats go off to both the folks mentioned here and the myriad others who quietly get the job done.
Roy Bickell and Jeff Baer
We work in the Las Vegas Convention Center quite a bit for a company based in Atlanta and, as we all know, sometimes the “official” channels can get a little murky. Two guys that it pays to know are Roy Bickell and Jeff Baer.
Roy is the guy who doles out the IATSE stagehands and riggers, as well as the lifts in the LVCC. He is always eager to meet with me or my guys for a pre-con and follows through on his promises, sometimes months after the meeting. He is meticulous and on top of his game. On several occasions, he has been asked for favors late into the setup, sometimes after hours, and he has never let me down.
Jeff is one of Roy's top guys who is sent out to supervise an exhibit setup. For a supervisor, he spends more time in a manlift than anyone I know. It is time well spent, too, since all of us feel he is extremely effective in accomplishing the day's goals. His diligence motivates others (including my guys) to give a little more. His answer to every issue that comes up: “No problem.”
We have developed a camaraderie with Jeff that does not exist anywhere else we work. Without keeping score, he runs for coffee sometimes, one of us runs for coffee sometimes, someone always shows up with drinks, snacks, something to make life on the floor a little bit better. That's really what there is to Jeff — he's dependable, effective, and enjoyable to be around — and he makes life on the floor a little bit better. “No problem.”
— Scott Whitfield
Imagination & Technology
Amy Quigg, DAV Productions
In a few short years, Amy has been put in charge (and tripled the size) of the film and video department of Las Vegas-based DAV Productions. She's built a “niche” market out of producing high-end corporate and industrials for meetings and events, broadcast use, and the entertainment industry.
Amy's avid editing techniques and shooting style are everywhere. In fact, on any given night, you'd be hard pressed to avoid seeing corporate roll-ins, trade show new media, and even spots running on casino road signs that have been created by her or one of her producers. Most amazing is that she's only 26. But don't let her age fool you; she directs union labor as effectively as her own hand-picked team, sits with world-class event planners for input and brainstorming sessions, and directs Fortune 100 CEOs, government officials, and top-name performers with style and grace.
Amy puts clients at ease during an initial phone call with her ideas, resources, and depth of experience, shocks them with her age at their first live meeting, and thrills them with her remarkable work.
As far as I know, Amy's never been recognized for her unbelievable creativity, work ethic, and leadership abilities, and considering her tireless effort in a male-dominated industry (and in Vegas!) she deserves it. Unlike some, Amy Quigg gives production in Vegas a good name.
— Dave Miller
Denis Savage and Francois “Frankie” Desjardin
I have been an audio professional in the entertainment business for over 30 years. My experience with Denis Savage and Francois “Frankie” Desjardin is unique. Not only are they in powerful positions, they are intelligent, professional, and courteous. It is rare to come across people in life with all these traits, let alone audio pros. Even more rare is their desire and drive to push the envelope with audio technology for the betterment of the show.
Denis Savage has worked with Celine Dion for nearly 20 years as FOH mixer and now sound designer for A New Day at Caesar's Colloseum. He is the nicest guy you will ever meet. Denis loves technology and isn't afraid of it. Having said that, they respect technology and don't push it too far. They have an ultimate responsibility to Celine and to the audience. Celine's show in Vegas not only sold out every night for the last 18 months, it receives compliments from laymen and professionals alike, such as “the best sounding live show in Vegas” or “the best sounding vocal ever in live sound.”
Frankie Desjardin is the lead sound engineer and has worked with Denis for nearly a decade. He is on top of his game and knows every intricate detail of the audio engineering of the Celine show. Denis relies on him every night to keep everything running smoothly. Frankie is a Meyer-certified SIMM operator and monitors the Meyer speaker system during the show. Denis and Frankie regularly tweak the speaker system for ultimate performance.
They both took a chance with a new SSL console for FOH and it has paid off nicely. The console works flawlessly, offers them features and sound quality not available in other live console designs and the show is a success. We believe Denis and Frankie are true pioneers and unsung heroes of the entertainment business and certainly Las Vegas.
— Phil Wagner
Solid State Logic
Robert Trombetta, West Coast IATSE, International Representative
Bob is assigned to bring local 720 IATSE back to life. For years, Las Vegas has been the entertainment mecca of the West and Local 720 played a major role in that success, but in the last five years it has fallen on hard times. Bob has succeeded where others have failed and is breathing life back into what was once the backbone of live entertainment in Las Vegas.
— Larry Stanfill
Tim Brennan, Martin Las Vegas
Tim Brennan tirelessly devotes himself to seeing that every venue, no matter how large or small has the best lighting it can have; he connects people together; he provides customers the assurance that things are possible and can be on time and on budget. He is a man of immediate action and passion, someone who can always be counted on to make that hard phone call and say what needs to be said.
His family's history is a classic Las Vegas American dream story, yet he did not simply fall into this, he started at the bottom, in the shop with a broom and worked his way up to the position of being able to drive down the strip and point to an spectacular achievement on every block of that legendary boulevard.
Don Dillingham, Alumifax, Inc., President
Don Dillingham came to Las Vegas from Oklahoma in 1938 and has made this his home ever since. Don went to schools and hung out in hotels and showrooms that no longer exist, in a “small town” that also no longer exists, but Don has been able to keep up with the all of the Las Vegas changes.
Don worked as a plumber during the day at the Dunes Hotel, and as a stagehand at the Desert Inn at night in the 1960s, while raising a family. In the late 60s, 70s, and 80s, as lighting designer, Don toured extensively with Paul Anka and Tom Jones. He was also the lighting designer for many other headliners when they came to Caesar's Palace in the 60s and 70s, as they usually did not travel with designers. Don is a 36-year member of IATSE Local 720 and is the developer of the “water fog system” that is used for light enhancement in theatrical, touring, and showroom situations.
In the late 1970s, Don found a product that he thought would revolutionize the lighting industry, and started importing the “Thomas Engineering aluminum PAR can” into the Las Vegas showrooms and theatres. He began Alumifax, Inc. in 1981 and started selling and using the aluminum PAR cans on the tours and the shows he was working on. Soon everyone in Las Vegas, and most national tours, were using the lightweight PAR cans and the industry standard Thomas Engineering aluminum trussing.
Along the way, Don worked with the best lighting designers and the best (and worst) headliners and music groups. He has seen Las Vegas develop from literally a one-horse town, with only one paved street, to the metropolis it is today, and he worked, and is still working very hard to keep his company competitive in the 21st century.
— Karen A. Edmundson