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TranAlta’s Grandstand Show at the Calgary Stampede Shines with Clay Paky Sharpys
Lighting Designer
Pierre Marleau
BML Blackbird, Stage Lite Manitoba Ltd.
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CANADA – The famed annual Calgary Stampede just concluded another successful season attracting over one million visitors to the 10-day event.  A combination rodeo-exhibition-festival, the largest fair in Canada also featured a nightly Grandstand Show, which was illuminated by Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures.

Pierre Marleau of Orange Frog Productions Inc. was the lighting and production designer for the grandstand show, a role he’s fulfilled for the last 19 years.  “It’s an old-style review, a big outdoor mega-spectacle,” he says.  “It’s got acrobats, circus acts, video, pyro, fireworks.  It’s one of the more complex projects we do.”  He obtained the Sharpy fixtures from a new joint venture between BML Blackbird of Secaucus, NJ and Stage Lite Manitoba Ltd. in Winnipeg, which combines a 30-year reputation for serving clients in the northeastern US with a professional team with extensive international experience in concert and theatrical touring. 

“The stage is a 100-foot long mobile platform with truss, weighing in excess of 400,000 pounds; it travels ¼ mile from storage to its show position every night,” Marleau explains.  “It poses a lot of challenges; there are a lot of restrictions from an engineering perspective and in terms of what fixtures can be used.  It’s quite a puzzle to get it to work.”

Marleau deployed 95 Clay Paky Sharpys, which he prizes for many reasons.  “A lot of things make them a great fixture for a outdoor show” he says.  “They have to perform every night.  One night we had a crazy electrical storm, and we programmed non-stop: They are so solid.

“The technology inside them is great,” he also reports.  “Their firepower is amazing.  In their price bracket Sharpy packs a mean punch: great optics, great gobos and prism.  The beam reads really well – better than any other fixture.  They are lightweight, move fast and are so compact that you can pack them tight in a very large performance area.  The Sharpys are well built with fans in a smart place.  All these things were very important for us.”

Marleau says the Sharpys “performed really well – we were there with them for a month.  They made life really easy.”

“We were excited to provide the Stampede with Clay Paky products as we trust in those products as much as our clients do,” says Tracey Ploss, Vice President Touring of the BML Blackbird and Stage Lite joint venture.  “Knowing the circumstances and the character of the Calgary Stampede we could provide products that we trusted would do the job.  I put a lot of faith in the Sharpies, and after three weeks of being outdoors with our extensive weather protection we did not have even one failure.”

The BML Blackbird/Stage Lite team included Vice President Operations Jim Rink and Terry Mueller, Brad Wagg and Enoch Seutter.

Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, added, “We’re proud to have worked with this group on this exciting and dynamic event. We look forward to collaborating on more projects with them.”

A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for Clay Paky.