LAS VEGAS - Britney Spears' "Circus" album has seen itself in the #1 position atop Billboards 200 charts. Spears was recognized as the only act in Nielsen SoundScan history to have four albums debut with 500,000 or more sales. After releasing her sixth studio album Circus, Britney Spears Show Director, Jamie King, Tiffany Perez (Assistant Show Director) along with Steve Dixon (Tour Producer and Director) and Mo Morrison (Production Executive) collaborated with a team of top industry personnel to put together and build one of the largest arena stages for her current Circus World Tour . The extravagant stage design includes elaborate set pieces, an array of spectacular dance and choreography, world-class aerialists, pyrotechnics, along with remarkable video and lighting. King's design for Spears' tour has truly brought to life a modern version of an entertaining circus spectacle.
Pyrotek Special Effects Vice President, Lorenzo Cornacchia, was called upon prior to the world tour to add a flare to Spears' Promotional shows. “We were approached initially to create a vertical ring of fire (eight-feet in diameter) for Britney's promotional tour that was used for a series of performances”. Pyrotek's custom designed ring of fire included a flash paper effect. Light cascaded a rear projection image of Spears figure on the flash paper wall. On cue the flash paper wall would ignite leaving an outlined ring of fire for Spears to strut through to commence her act. It was used for her performances at the Bambi Awards, Good Morning America amongst a number of other performances. “One of our main designs for the tour was to take that ring idea and implement it into the stage on a larger scale,” Cornacchia stated. Following the promotional performances, a series of meetings were conducted at Tait Towers in Lititz, Pennsylvania, involving all associated vendors and creators who met to discuss the Britney Spears Circus World Tour. Cornacchia was on hand to propose the pyrotechnics and special effects for the tour. The stage is designed in the round; the center area of the main stage is a hydraulic revolve with an 18' circular diameter. Cornacchia and his team, including Bob Ross and Kevin Hughes, built a customized gas flame effect that is embedded into the outer edge of the circular revolve. The customized ring was built into a total of eight eight-foot sections. The control system allows the ring to create a lazy flame setting that can ignite a flame up to one foot in height and also shoot high flames that create an intensified flame look upwards to six feet tall. The flame ring is utilized for her performance during Slave. It commences near the end of the act as Spears enters a lift located at the center of the main stage, explained Cornacchia. As she slowly is raised, the flame ring is set in a low-lying flame look and as the lift reaches its maximum height the screen bursts into sequences of sectional blasts of fire. “It's a circus tour; it's an extravagant show, when you see this tour you get an impressive all-around show”, noted Cornacchia.
The introduction of the Circus-themed show welcomes those in attendance to the Circus via Perez Hilton. The video introduction is projected from a stealth video screen hanging two feet off the stage deck filling in the entire center stage. At that time, the stage area is engulfed with a low-lying atmospheric fog effect prior to Spears' entrance for the performance of her hit single Circus. The opening sequence ends with a massive cryogenic effect that fills the outer edges of the stages. A total of 52 heads were designed into the stage deck; 28 are located on the main stage and 12 on each of the B-stages. While working with Nick Whitehouse (Lighting Designer), they added a nice accent to the cryo by embedding lighting fixtures that are situated parallel to each cryo jet head to wash the cryo looks with a variety of color sequences when they are cued. As rehearsals stretched over a three-week period, Cornacchia and his touring team consisting of Robert Liscio (Shooter), Hans Lundberg (Gas Specialist) and Ray Seymour (Pyrotechnician) integrated the effects into the show. All customized gas systems, pyrotechnics and CO2 cryogenic systems were designed and located under the stage set to reveal the massive effects that would be displayed on deck. While working with Tait Towers and reviewing numerous AutoCAD renderings, they put together one of the cleanest and flush-looking special effect designs integrated into the stage set which could not be noticed unless it was pointed out.
Additionally, the act includes a number of pyrotechnics throughout the show. While performing her hit compilation of Ooh Ooh Baby / Hot as Ice, Spears is accompanied by a magician who wows the crowds during her performance with a number of magic tricks. During this scene, a prop was built with 1X25' gerbs that are detonated on cue to reveal Spears' disappearance from the prop piece as she relocates on the alternate B-stage and continues her act. The Finale of the show exhibits a truly remarkable circular waterfall effect. The waterfall is situated at the center of the main stage and consists of 66 20'X20 sec. silver gerbs that cascade around Britney and her dancers for the finale of Womanizer. The effect truly leaves audiences with that wow factor as one of the spectacular elements of the show. The barrage of confetti during the ending Womanizer reprise celebrates the show finale.