Sooner Routhier on Designing for Alessia Cara

12/18/2019
Overview

Designer, producer and director Sooner Routhier collaborated with rising sensation, singer-songwriter Alessia Cara, to develop a new performance experience for her 2019 Fall Tour with lighting, audio and video services supported by PRG.

Cara has been a major contender across streaming platforms since her single “Here” was released in 2015. Currently signed to Def Jam, she spent much of 2019 opening for Shawn Mendes on more than 70 of his concert dates. Cara’s knack for crafting catchy pop songs paired with Routhier’s award-winning lighting design has made for an unforgettable live concert experience.

We sat down with Routhier to chat about the design on the “Pains of Growing” tour.

PRG: Hi Sooner, thanks for chatting with us! What inspired the design for this tour?

Sooner Routhier: Alessia requested a dollhouse style set up for her stage in support of the “Pains of Growing” album and tour. The house is meant to symbolize Alessia’s growth from her suburban Toronto bedroom to her life as a global top 10 touring artist. The house morphs throughout the night, changing with the moods of the songs. Sometimes it disappears entirely and becomes a surface for home movies and animated content. Other times, the wallpaper changes, we see storms outside the windows, or it’s simply a static set up.

PRG: What was the overarching goal from a design perspective?

SR: We wanted to make sure that Alessia had the proper performance palette to move and interact with the space. She can sit or lie on the bed in the bedroom, interact with the band members as they play in the living room on credenzas and dressers, and turn table lamps on and off.

PRG: What is your process for identifying the needs of a project like this?

SR: Once we established the overall goal of creating a house on stage, we needed to turn it into an electrified event. It needed to also function as a typical concert; allowing the lighting and video to make the music look like it sounds.

PRG: How did you work with the PRG team to bring this vision to life?

SR: PRG worked diligently to ensure that our projection and server needs were met to perfection. We had very little time in rehearsals to set up and program the show. They also made sure that everything was prepped and functional before we entered the rehearsal space and provided us with an extremely knowledgeable server programmer to ensure that we were getting the most out of the Mbox. It was necessary to have as many tricks up our sleeves as possible with the Mbox as we needed creative masking and effects to achieve the shifts in the house. Anthony Headley was indispensable in this regard.

PRG: What was the biggest challenge in pulling off this tour?

SR: Time was our main challenge with this project. We had only a couple days to get the show programmed, the content budget was low, and our production was reliant on projection. We had to make the best out of clever server programming to make the show look as bespoke as possible. It took a lot of time to dial everything in.

PRG: Well, the team did an amazing job working within those confines. I am glad we could contribute to making the shows a success!

Written by Erin Bates
Photos by: Brian Freedman

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