The Calgary Stampede TransAlta Grandstand Show is a yearly event performed during the famous 10 day event in Canada every July. The show is designed with a fresh concept each year, and 2016’s theme was “Grand Spectacular” celebrating the visionary Guy Weadick, who formed the Calgary Stampede back in 1912. Weadick’s vision for outdoor spectacle in 1912 was, at the time, considered over-the-top because his unique process was ahead of its time. He combined influences from wild west shows, dare devil routines, and local talent show to create an outdoor spectacle that has become a yearly event for over 100 years. The 2016 Grand Spectacular design team was inspired by a fun conceptual thought: “What if Guy Weadick was alive in 2016 to create the show?”.
Grand Spectacular’s duration of 70 minutes featured a cast of young performers ages 7-20 from The Calgary Stampede’s year round School of Performing Arts called The Young Canadians. The audience for the show is made up of local and international community who attend The Calgary Stampede, and each show boasts an audience of 250,000 people viewing the outdoor show, rain or shine. Specialty acts, novelty features (2016 featured the assembly and flaring of a full-scale oil rig race onstage), local musicians and multi-talented performers from the local community are celebrated for their participation in the nightly show which can best be described as a “living year book” for the City of Calgary, Canada.
2016 posed a unique challenge for the show in that it rained throughout 7 of the 10 performances, therefore the production team and designer’s vision was put to the test. Typically the production team prepares an alternate version of the show for the chance of a “rain show” (the show runs rain or shine), however 2016‘s weather circumstances forced the “rain show” into regular use including the additional health and safety that is required for performances occurring in inclement weather.
The event’s venue is a shared facility including a horse race track and infield rodeo space which is used during the first portion of the evening. A mobile stage unit weighing in excess of 340,000lbs is rolled into place for the Grand Spectacular show during a 20 minute intermission. This set-up occurs in full view of the audience, so a finely choreographed installation of flying set pieces, lighting rigs and stage unit is executed by large agricultural tractors with rehearsed drivers. Connections, tests and stage management’s checks are critical to the process, which in 2016 was impeded by rain issues caused by the gear remaining wet from rain throughout the run.
The show’s content features a large cast of young performers working in relation to video content across LED panels that form the stage environment. Achieving lighting positions are a unique challenge in that there is no overhead hang-points in the outdoor venue apart from the mobile stage piece that only accommodates shots from behind the stage. Live IMAG feed to mirrored screens on each side of the stage provide support to the audience which is stretched across a wide grandstand equivalent of two city blocks, in tiers that equal 7 stories high. Sound and pyro are all moved into place during a 20 minute intermission.
The Calgary Stampede wants to thank all of the designers, technicians, production crew and riggers who made our 2016 production a success. The 2016 Calgary Stampede TransAlta Grandstand Show was the wettest in history, and yet our show received the highest satisfaction ratings in history. Job well done!
Creative Producer: Dave Pierce
Director: Brian Foley
Head of Design: Doug Paraschuk
Technical Director: Chris Sprague
Production Manager: Colleen Caron
Lighting Designer: Geoff Bouckley
Lighting Programmer: Michael Wilkinson
Lighting Provider: Stage Lite Manitoba
Lighting Rep: Tracey Ploss
Video Designer: Sean Nieuwenhuis
Video Director: Wladmiro A. Woyno
Video Screen: Multi Vision Inc.
Video Screen Technician: Phil Cane
System: Sound Art Calgary
Audio Engineers: Dan Frerichs; Adam Greenholtz; Spencer Cheyne
Pyrotechnics & Flying Effects:
Flying Effects: Vertigo
Aerial Riggers: Andrew Rafuse and Andrew Kerr
Pyrotechnics & Special Effects: Fireworks Spectaculars
Pyro Design: Brad Dezotell; Eric Salter-Pedersen
Gear List (partial):
Multi Vision Inc. - LED Equipment
340 LED Mesh Panel – 18mm – for Two Screens (Stage L&R)
572 LED Mesh Panel – 18mm
Sound Art Calgary – Audio Equipment
20 – Electro-Voice XLC127DVX 12”, 2 x 6.5”, 2x2” 3-way, 120°x5° Line Array module
4 – Electro-Voice XLC118 XLC 18” bass reflex, 1,000-watt Line Array module
12 – Electro-Voice Xsub/f X-Line 2x18” bass reflex, 2,000-watt Line Array module
1 – Yamaha QL5 Digital Console 32 Mic, 24 Line x 16
1 – Yamaha LS9-16 Digital Console 16 Mic, 24 Line x 16
Stage Lite – Lighting Equipment
13 Blinder 4 Light
9 Blinder 8 Light
16 Bar of 4 - PAR 64 ACL
22 Vari*Lite VL3500 Wash
64 Vari*Lite VL3000 Spot
50 Clay Paky Sharpy
22 Clay Paky Sharpy Wash
48 Weather Protection Sharpy
78 Weather Protection VL
58 Impression 120 RZ LED RGB
10 Spectral Zoom LED Par
54 Weather Protection
10 Martin ZR44 Fogger Edison
10 DF 50 Hazer Edison
8 Lycian 1290