When faced with lighting over 75 different songs from such diverse artists as The Doors to Bobby Vinton for California Dreaming at Stage West Dinner Theatre, Allan McMillan–resident lighting and media content designer–wanted to have more than his usual tricks to draw upon. He used Martin’s Maxedia, because he needed a system that he could quickly learn while providing dynamic content.

McMillan also wanted to give the Stage West audience something they had not seen at the venue before. Canada’s Stage West is no ordinary dinner theatre. A unique entertainment complex, Stage West combines a magnificent hotel with a first-class restaurant and features internationally known television, screen, and stage stars. Over the past three years, the venue has become recognized for its lavish productions. Stage West’s latest offering California Dreaming–a musical revue of the "California Sound" from the 60s to 90s–is no exception.

Projecting California Dreams

In the early stages of the design process, McMillan wanted to include an element of projection in the show. Although, originally, he hoped to have five rear screens for the production, the space and staging requirements resulted in one large rear screen with separate Act I and Act II positions, in addition to two front screens incorporated into the scenery. Paul Pelletier from Martin Canada came in for two days to get McMillan up to speed with the Maxedia system. McMillan comments, "It was a bit overwhelming at first as to how powerful Maxedia is–you are only limited by your imagination."

The selection of media McMillan utilizes for the show varies from static photographs to abstract compositions created from the stock options Maxedia provides. Much of the stock images that came with the system were quite useful and fit the material in the production. "Considering we were using the beta version of the software we had no problems whatsoever," Allan stated.

Also helpful to McMillan was the fact that many of the images and compositions could be created without the lighting console. Stage West is a busy venue, with over 475 performances per year. McMillan created much of the content while working on other shows, and then simply integrated the Maxedia content into California Dreaming while he was programming the lighting for the show. Executive producer Howard Pechet and general manager Muhammed Huq are reportedly extremely happy with the outcome.

Set Design: Samantha Burson
Lighting and Projection: Allan McMillan
Assistant Lighting Designer: Nancy McCune
Maxedia Supplier: Apex Sound and Light
Sound Design: Chris Jacko
Scenery Construction: R&I Design