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The twin tours once again traveled East and West for 2016 with over-the-top staging, lighting, video and effects. All photos courtesy Bryan Hartley and Jason McEachern
The twin tours once again traveled East and West for 2016 with over-the-top staging, lighting, video and effects. All photos courtesy Bryan Hartley and Jason McEachern

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Nook Schoenfeld
Cover Story

Bryan Hartley Raises the Bar for TSO’s 2016 ‘Ghosts of Christmas Eve’ Tour

The first tour the Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) did was only five shows long. They had just one band and used local production. But the word quickly spread. The next year, they brought in designer Bryan Hartley and a lighting package. They also started doing two shows a day on that second tour, some 17 years ago. Ever since, this gigantic live concert, which is a mixture of classical, rock and holiday music, has grown to selling out arenas every holiday season with what can best be described as a visual spectacle.

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Justin Collie designed the production for Maxwell. All photos by Steve Jennings
Justin Collie designed the production for Maxwell. All photos by Steve Jennings

Maxwell & Mary J. Blige

Steve Jennings (Photo and Text)
Wide Focus

John Dacosta and Daunte Kenner on “The King & Queen of Hearts” Tour

The “King and Queen of Hearts” tour with Maxwell and Mary J. Blige had the combined talents of production and lighting designer Justin Collie of Performance Environment Design Group (PEDG; now known as Nimblist); John Dacosta, the lighting director and programmer for Maxwell; and Daunte Kenner, the production and lighting designer for Mary J. Blige. PLSN got some time with Dacosta and Kenner for some words about the tour.

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Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN
Nook Schoenfeld, Editor, PLSN

The State of Air Transportation

Nook Schoenfeld
Editor's Note

It’s the start of a new year, and time for me to put my corporate taxes in order for the old year. This amounts to taking 12 months’ worth of info and combining it into one spreadsheet that shows all my write-offs. One of my favorite parts of all this is my travel expenses. I gather up what the flights cost and I cross-reference them against the airline miles I made. I am indeed, one of those geeks who figures out ways to get several free plane tickets every year.

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From left, Ruediger Haeming, Bobby Hale, Scott Kinnebrew, Shayla Johnson, Noel Garcia, Betsy Childers, Paul Hancock, Sean Hoey, Robyn Scallion and Jeff Pelzl
From left, Ruediger Haeming, Bobby Hale, Scott Kinnebrew, Shayla Johnson, Noel Garcia, Betsy Childers, Paul Hancock, Sean Hoey, Robyn Scallion and Jeff Pelzl

The Renaissance of High End Systems

Richard Olson
Company 411

High End Systems turns 30 years old this year; that’s quite a milestone for this Austin-based lighting manufacturer. High End has gone through their share of changes over the years, but many of the same familiar faces that built this company are still with HES today. In fact, they’ve been growing so fast that they now have the largest sales team assembled in years. And yes, they are still raising the bar in our industry by uniquely being #ALLABOUTLED. Sit back while we tell you a little about this company.

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Jean Shepherd (Chris Carsten) and Myles Moore (Ralphie) extol the virtues of the Red Ryder air rifle. 4Wall provided the touring package to facilitate the show’s needs. Photo by Jesse Schreve
Jean Shepherd (Chris Carsten) and Myles Moore (Ralphie) extol the virtues of the Red Ryder air rifle. 4Wall provided the touring package to facilitate the show’s needs. Photo by Jesse Schreve

Ralphie, Get Your Gun!

Randi Minetor
Focus on Theatre

Taking A Christmas Story on Tour

It began as the reminiscences of an old storyteller, but it grew to become one of our best-loved tales of the yuletide season — and now it’s a singing, dancing celebration of the youthful anticipation of Christmas morning. A Christmas Story, the live stage show adapted from the 1983 movie, takes a tale of 1940s Midwestern America and turns it into an extravagant fantasy that spins from the mind of an eleven-year-old boy.

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Josh Groban and the cast mingled with the audience. Photo by Chad Batka
Josh Groban and the cast mingled with the audience. Photo by Chad Batka

Tracking a 'Comet' from Boston to Broadway

Bryan Reesman
Inside Theatre

Mimi Lien’s Stage Design for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

It’s a complicated Russian novel and everyone’s got nine different names, but the narrative extract from Tolstoy’s War and Peace that has been transformed into the colorful musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 has become one of the most original productions to arrive on Broadway during this past year. And one of its strengths, Mimi Lien’s lavish stage design, required a lot of thoughtful engineering.

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Jonathan Smeeton and one of his favorite pals
Jonathan Smeeton and one of his favorite pals

A Chat with Jonathan Smeeton

Nook Schoenfeld
PLSN Interview

Not many people can stake a claim to being in the lighting business for 50 years. I sat down with my friend Jonathan, who recently passed this milestone, as he explains to me how he got fired from his latest gig just last month. “I just finished designing ARW, an offshoot of Yes members playing Yes songs. This is my fourth go around of sorts with different Yes projects. Singer Jon Anderson fired me for some difference of opinion, but it took me three more weeks to finish tightening up the lighting before I could actually go home.” Make no qualms about it, Jonathan is a unique individual. He started at a time when there was no manual for his occupation.

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Nano winches were used to lower faux light bulbs. Photo by Steve Jennings
Nano winches were used to lower faux light bulbs. Photo by Steve Jennings

Stevie Nicks '24 Karat Gold Tour' with The Pretenders

Steve Jennings (Photo and Text)
Designer Insights

Stevie Nicks performed a solid two-hour set spanning her 35-year solo career, which also included some notable Fleetwood Mac hits on her 24 Karat Gold Tour. With the added pleasure of The Pretenders on the bill, fans got two powerhouse iconic acts in one show. One of the highlights came when Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde comes back out to sing with Steve on the hit “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” to the delight of the crowd.

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PLSN Jan 2017 Buyers Guide - Block Matrix Lights
PLSN Jan 2017 Buyers Guide - Block Matrix Lights

Block Matrix Lights

Nook Schoenfeld
Buyer's Guide

In 2013, The MagicPanel-R from Ayrton hit the scene, and everyone took notice of the shape of the fixture. Someone had invented a new way for lighting designers to control pixels in an incredibly bright manner that could be used in all kinds of cool applications. This opened the floodgate for a plethora of LED products that adapted to this block shape. Whether they are moving heads, static LED panels or fixtures one can assemble into a grid of their own design, there is a lot of demand for these fixtures in today’s market. Take a look at what’s out there.

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