I recently stage managed a very special corporate event – Intel’s Opening Keynote at CES 2018 (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. The show, which took place at the Park Theater in Las Vegas, was a very big and ambitious production showcasing cutting edge Intel technology that the world will most likely be seeing in the near future. The show was produced by Halloran Associates and Clarity Creative in collaboration with Intel Corporation’s own internal events division. As always, we had many groups contributing elements, the more traditional such as: WorldStage for video, Tait Towers for automation, Nautilus Design for lighting design, OSA for audio, Strictly FX for lasers, Mystic Scenic, etc; and then the unusual: Name The Machine, Soundvision, Nerdmatics, Aerodrums, MobilEye, e-Volo, iQ (drones), etc.
Many modern productions already involve enough high-level technology to challenge a stage manager. Given that this production was all about the technology of the future, learning enough about who and what I was working with to call the show was a true adventure. As CEO Bryan Kryzanich and Intel’s vision of the story they wanted to tell at CES (and to the world) grew, so did the production’s scale. Months before the event, it was decided that we needed much more time then we would have at the venue in order to get the show figured out (Bruno Mars was scheduled to perform a New Year’s Eve concert at the Park Theater – our load-in would commence at 12:01am New Year’s Day for a performance 7 days later), so Intel rented the Cow Palace, a venerable old arena in Daly City, south of San Francisco proper, where the production would load in and technically rehearse in advance of the January dates at the Park Theater.
As always, my job as the Production Stage Manager, was to learn about all the contributing parts and people and blend them together to form the show that the creative team had dreamed up. Deck Stage Managers Lisa Deer, Emi Aramendia and Clay Francis along with my personal assistant Hannah Evans were my appendages, extending my reach to the far corners of the stage and beyond! After so many meetings, drawings, revisions, showflows, scripts, additions and cuts, there is nothing like that moment when you first get everyone on headset and actually put together a string of cues that look like a piece of a show. Those first moments in the birthing process of a production are my most cherished. Whether or not the final product ends up looking like that first pass, that moment when all the team and all the parts come together is unequaled. I never stop appreciating the opportunity to be in this business at that moment. I try to convey that appreciation to all my colleagues in the hope that it inspires us all to continue doing our best work throughout the challenging (sometimes grueling) process of creation.
With performances by musicians, drones, dancers, acrobats, an autonomous car, a Volocopter flight and human guests such as Tony Romo and Jim Gianopolus it was a fun filled event. Ken Stanford, our camera director and his team of camera operators did a breathtaking job of capturing the entire event. Have a look at the web stream of the production.
Recently we had one of THOSE nights: a major drop used for the majority of act two couldn’t come in and I and my crew made many adjustments on the fly, including during that 22 second set change while the audience was watching a video. The new sound board op jumped my cues twice in the same night, too. However, after the show the ASM and I met some famous choreographers and were introduced as the stage managers. The first words out of their mouths were “Flawless!” followed by telling us how all the scenery went in and out perfectly. They then relived several production moments for us. Yeah, that was kinda fun! Though perhaps my favorite part was my friend’s little boy on headset during a post-show tour – the crew talked to him and his eyes were big with “Who said that?” as they guided him to look around the stage for the person waving to him. ❤️End of night = worth it all!