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Special Report: Houses of Worship

Staging Solutions:
Some of the biggest productions in America these days aren't touring rock bands...well, they are, but with a difference. They're tuning their strings to an Evangelical pitch, and churches across the country are investing in sophisticated staging facilities to accommodate them. Throw in a wide array of increasingly ambitious holiday dramas, and it adds up to one of the busiest segments in the entertainment industry. John McKeon talks to church technical directors, lighting and A/V rental houses, and tour managers about the challenges in pulling these projects off.

Prestonwood Christmas Festival:
Everything’s big in Texas—even Christmas. After a three-year hiatus (during which a new 8,000 seat auditorium was built), the Prestonwood Baptist Church Dallas Christmas Festival returned in 2001 with a bang. Billed as the largest Christmas show in Texas, the three act event includes traditional and religious songs and the story of the birth of Jesus, featuring everything small lambs to large elephants to flying angels to tons of entertainment technology. Technical director is Cyndi Nine, scenic design is by Wolf and Company, lighting design is by Larry Danforth, sound design is by Randy Adams, costume design is by Creative Alliance, and flying effects are by ZFX Company. Participating vendors include MA Lighting, Artistic Licence, ETC, Wybron, Diversitronics, High End, Lighting & Electronics, City Theatrical, Doug Fleenor Design, EFX, Le Maitre, Lycian, Wybron, and Pyrotex. Hannah Kinnersley reports.

PLUS: A Roundup of Recent HOW Projects From Around the Country.

Also in this issue...

ARCHITECTURE: The Kodak Theatre
The Academy Awards ceremony is just the most prominent event planned for the new, 3,300-seat Kodak Theatre, the anchor tenant of TrizecHahn's Hollywood & Highland complex. Starting with a massive, parted glass and crystal curtain at the entrance, architect/designer David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group has created a space that summons the spirit of old Hollywood, at the same time that it accommodates such state-of-the-art technology as a "media cockpit" in the midst of orchestra seating. John Calhoun reports.

THEATRE: Miss Saigon UK Tour
A new tour of this perennial hit went out in the UK late last year, and features the same design team of the West End and Broadway productions: lighting designer David Hersey, set designer John Napier, costume designer Andreanne Neofitou, and sound designer Andrew Bruce. The lighting has changed quite a lot since the production’s debut in 1989; equipment includes a wide range of Vari-Lite units and a Strand 520 console. Other vendors include DHA (naturally), ETC, Pani, E/T/C, and Rainbow, all supplied by White Light and The Moving Light Company. Stage automation is by Stage Technologies. Sound, all provided by Autograph (again, naturally), includes products from Cadac, Meyer, Martin, TCS Electronics (a first in the theatre), Sennheiser, Amcron, Clear-Com, and XTA. Rob Halliday reports.

TECHNOLOGY/THEATRE: A Metamorphosing Metamorphoses
Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre production of Metamorphoses, a meditation on the myths of Ovid written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, is a big hit on the regional circuit, making stops at the Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep, Mark Taper Forum; it was such a hit in its New York debut at Second Stage that it will be moving to Broadway’s Circle in the Square. This wouldn’t seem like a big deal except that Dan Ostling’s set is essentially a big pool. Michael Eddy talks to Ostling and production stage manager Anjali Bidani, worked on the production since Chicago, about the challenges in reconfiguring the production for each location. Scenery for the New York production was constructed by Atlantic Studios.

TECHNOLOGY/RETAIL: Prada
Designed by architect of the moment Rem Koolhaas, the new Prada New York “Epicenter” intends to expand the notion of retail space. More than simply a place to sell merchandise, it has been designed as a high-tech public space that can constantly be reinvented. A huge wave that opens up the main level with the basement area can be opened up into a stage, with a surrounding seating area that also doubles as an area for selling shoes. The merchandise throughout the ground floor is displayed on moveable columns that can be positioned differently throughout the store, or moved out of the way for large events. The main dressing rooms are equipped with computers and video cameras, the better to check on different styles and sizes of that Prada sweater, or, believe it or not, allow you to see how your backside looks in those new pants. Scharff Weisberg provided the in-store technology design, systems integration, construction, and IT implementation for this most unusual project. David Johnson reports.

PRODUCT NEWS:
New Products from Altman, Vari-Lite, JEM, Christie Digital, Design & Drafting, CAST Lighting, Streamlight, MacPherson, Servoreeler System, Total Structures, Alcorn McBride, and Koldwave, and books from Heinemann Publishing.

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Producers of:
LDI 2002 / October 18-20, 2002 / Las Vegas, Nevada