Esprit Award Series: Best Entertainment Productions
Thursday, December 27, 2018
The ILEA Esprit Awards program is a dynamic industry awards programs, attracting an exceptional range, depth and quality of entries from all areas of live and special events. The 2018 Esprit Awards Gala was held at ILEA Live on Friday, 17 August, in Denver. There were 36 different categories and over 45 winners. Over the next few months, ILEA Experience will showcase these recipients and their award-winning events.
Best Entertainment Production (under $25,000 USD)
Recipient: Justen Pohl, Enticing Entertainment
Our client approached us with one main goal: to temporarily have her employees be able to experience a magical event that transported them to another world, escaping the high pressures and demands of work while truly showing them appreciation. It was a heartfelt, inspiring vision, and one that we were honored to co-create with her. We also wanted to create a groundbreaking performance for the arena show that would leave guests teary-eyed and inspired. You know that dreamlike, inspiring, nostalgic, warm fuzzy feeling you get from movies like “Ferngully” and “Avatar”? That was the vibe we wanted to create for this event using the medium of blacklight, ultraviolet effects, glowing decor elements, video mapping and whimsical roaming acts. It needed to feel like another planet.
In our client’s past events, the entertainment was enjoyed while guests sat at their tables after dinner. This year, she wanted to elevate their experience and decided to take them to a show with theater seating. Dividing the event into two rooms really gave the event a “wow” factor. It allowed for a massive 52’ x 42’ stage that provided a platform for our amazing talent to immerse the guests in an ecstasy of wonder while helping achieve our goal of providing an unforgettable show for the guests. We truly wanted to make the imagery you see in your favorite, most whimsical dreams come to life.
Best Entertainment Production ($25,000 - $75,000 USD)
Give the Kids the World Gala – A Night of Dreams
Recipient: Cameron Rust and Janice Dowling, Hello! Destination Management
On 16 Sept., 2017, Give Kids the World hosted its 29th annual gala for 1,550 attendees at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. Give Kids the World Gala is just one of those events that touches you in ways you didn’t expect, and its planning process transcends the minutia and the endless details of our everyday as meeting planners and truly becomes something that inspires you to do something extraordinary. Give Kids the World Village is a beloved Central Florida nonprofit resort that gives magical cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. For a brief moment — one week — they are free of the worries of doctors and needles and the burden of the realities they never thought they would ever deal with.
As event professionals, this is our mission every day: to transport and delight, celebrate the special moments and reprieve bad ones, if only for a few hours. So as it approaches its 30th anniversary year in 2018, this once-humble event has grown from a simple “thank you” dinner for a few top donors into an award-nominated annual event that is not only its largest annual fundraiser and a celebration of its mission, but an experience that transports its over 1,500 attendees from around the world to far off fantasy lands and into the intangible imagination of children, forging a deep connection in a way that any brand would be jealous of.
This year’s event, “A Night of Dreams, Darkness to Dawn” dove deeper into the Village’s mission than ever before, juxtaposing the cathartic realization that your child has a life-threatening illness with a setting sun, entering a dreamland where the Village comes to life as we progress from sunset to twilight, night and dawn told through modern dance, acrobatics, music and song. We are responsible for the overall theme and show flow of this meticulously planned, five-hour long event, guiding its food service flow, designing the décor and table design, and producing its multi-act theatrical show. As the architects of this event’s design, it is our job to tell the village’s story in a way that makes it seem like you’re falling in love with it. You won’t see a disrupting “sob story” nor a passive aggressive ask to donate money. But you will be moved; you’ll shed a tear and then crack an infectious smile with the person doing the same thing at the table next to you. You’ll have catharsis, and you’ll feel a part of something greater than yourself, and have a damn good time in the process.
The best events are those that stick with you after the house lights come up and the tables are struck, and often in ways that you can’t quite comprehend. They live on and affect you for some time after and change your life for the better. Inspiring. Immersive. Effortless. This is the legacy that Give Kids the World Gala has created.
Best Entertainment Production (over $75,000 USD)
Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown Grand Opening
Recipient: David Merrell, AOO Events
Nonstop entertainment provided twists, turns and surprises for 800 thrill-seeking guests on 23 June, 2017, when the Intercontinental Hotel Group, Korean Air U.S. Headquarters and Wilshire Grand treated guests to a progressive experience. This grand opening journey of the new five-star L.A. luxury hotel and all that it has to offer created four different experiences across 73 hotel floors. Three distinctively different brands were merged into a cohesive, very “Los Angeles” event. Guests included press, hospitality industry peers, potential clients, city officials and client VIPs. LED wristbands were used to signal guests to move through the four different experiences. Human signage creatively dressed as lamps served as guidance. Guests entered a ballroom designed to extend the luxurious personality of the Intercontinental lifestyle. Four 20-foot, custom-made bars with marble waterfall features (replicating those in the hotel) and 16 bartending positions in the center caught everyone’s attention. Three bars served drinks; the fourth featured flair bartenders. In the middle of those bars, a 20’ x 20’ main stage featured breathtaking cirque acts, both onstage and aerial. The main stage, an immersive wall-to-wall experience with wraparound scrims bookending our center projection screen, highlighted more cirque performances.
Entertainment was designed to enthrall. Performances combined dance, athleticism and technology projecting thrilling cirque acts. Back-to-back performances incorporated corresponding visual imagery as motion décor. Entertainment vignettes constantly re-directed guests’ attention from main, center and bar stages to keep them intrigued. Nonstop, timed performances incorporated a new genre of cirque talent, set to choreographed animated visual effects onscreen that changed with each performance and matched the style, texture and energy of the entertainment.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Esprit Recipient Reviews Series!