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Chatting with the Monoliths of Lighting and Staging Design

Nook Schoenfeld • Editor's NoteOctober 2019 • October 11, 2019

The Rolling Stones, captured by Steve Jenning’s camera on the cover (and on a slew of pages packed with more photos and text inside — see “Production Profile,” page 28) have become an institution in the rock ‘n’ roll touring world for as long as all of us have been going to their shows. While PLSN wasn’t even a sparkle in our eyes when the Rolling Stones first came to the U.S. in 1964 for their two-week tour, we’ve managed to cover every tour they have done for the last 20 years. We caught up with them at one of the last U.S. shows for their “No Filter” trek in Northern California.

Any time we can sit down to talk with their design team is a treat. Patrick Woodroffe has been their lighting designer since 1982, and he has always had a way with lighting as well as being an accomplished wordsmith. Once again, Ethan Weber has been called upon to look after the band’s programming and lighting direction and executes his work with precise human timing on every cue. Roland Greil steps in this year to handle the media playback in between covering other gigs during the last year.

‡‡         Designer Insights Galore

It’s always a pleasure to chat with our friend Barry Lather. The famed dancer-turned-choreographer-turned-show director turned production designer has had one heckuva year. One of the highlights is his relationship with singer Carrie Underwood and his involvement on her “Cry Pretty Tour 360” (See article, page 36). From working with the artist on song lists, costumes, show flow, production staging, and sculpting the performance, it’s quite a spectacle.

New to the team this year is design firm Fireplay with designer’s Nick Whitehouse and Kelly Sticksel designing a large set that dominated the arena floor while incorporating sails of projected soft goods. Back at the helm running the whole shebang is Nate Cromwell, fresh from his world travels into the jungles and mountains of the Far East. He gives us a rundown of what’s new and different this year in directing the lighting.

One of our more popular features are our interviews with legends in the live touring biz. Alex Reardon, an L.A.-based designer originally from the U.K., chats about his career and how he got to his current position. This interview probably brings me the editor, full circle with Alex. We had met some ages ago in a foreign land way before either of us really had a foot in this business. There were dubious circumstances buy they led to a lifelong friendship. Many years later, our paths crossed simply because we both became addicted to the same thing…a new lighting console (this time around). Years later, he’s mastered his craft and has others pressing these buttons for him now. He may be one of the more well-read and knowledgeable people I’ve ever come across, and this is truly a pleasure to finally include him here in our pages (See story, page 56).

Lastly, my friend Yvan Miron has been building on something that I’ve used for the last 20 years of my career — the Stageline Mobile Stage. He’s got a new smaller model engineered to hold larger loads on their medium sized stage. I ran into Yvan in a corner of LDI last year, where he pulled me aside to look at some images on his phone of his latest modern day creation. I was sworn to secrecy, but a year has gone by, and it’s now safe for me to let the cat out of the bag (See story, page 62). So check out what Stageline is now building, and get in line. Every stadium-sized tour should use one or two of these on the road, in my humble opinion.

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