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Busch Gardens brings talent and technology to the stage with London Rocks

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The recent Media Hard Hat Tour of London Rocks at Busch Gardens unveiled what is to be the most imaginative and technology-laden live musical show to hit the stage. The names behind this show would fill a Broadway playbill. It was such an honor to be able to listen to the creative process and see the excitement in the faces and voices of those involved. One team member was barely able to contain himself as he practically lit up the room talking about costumes, lighting and sound and stage design.

An international team of more than 500 artists, performers and craftsmen are putting the final touches on this musical extravaganza that will take guests on a journey through British rock-n-roll culture via live action and multi-media elements.

Here’s a bit about the London Rocks Media Hard Hat Tour. Carl Lum, Busch Gardens’ Park President, started off by saying that the show is not only an investment in the park, but the destination of Williamsburg, Virginia as a whole. The combination of an excellent product and good people is what makes it all happen. He mentioned that he really enjoys seeing his team get excited “like a kid at Christmas with a new Big Wheel.” The Busch Gardens Entertainment team is certainly overflowing with excitement.

Scott Gasparich, Vice-President of Entertainment, called London Rocks a “crown jewel,” and described it as a “deep dive into British culture. “ The show will bring the benchmark of entertainment to a whole new level.

"We are returning the Globe Theatre to its rightful place as Busch Gardens' premier live performance space." - Scott Gasparich

London Rocks: The Team

  • Sam Buntrock – Tony-Nominated Stage Director of “Sunday in the Park with George”
  • Chase Brock – Choreographer – Brock’s past work includes “Spider-Man Turn off the Dark.” The Chase Brock Experience is a New York-based contemporary dance company that focuses on live music and artists from a broad range of media.
  • Ken Billington – Lighting expert and Tony Award-winner for “Chicago”
  • Jason Kantrowitz – Lighting designer – Kantrowitz has done work for Broadway as well as themed entertainment for SeaWorld and such shows as the fireworks and water extravaganza Fantasmic at Disney Parks.
  • Toni-Leslie James – FANY Award-Winning Costume Designer, James is the Director of Costumes at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her Broadway costume credits include “The Scottsboro Boys,” “Footloose,” “The Tempest,” and “The Wild Party.” TV credits include “Whoopi” for NBC and “As the World Turns.”

London Rocks: The facts

  • 18 - Performance platform levels
  • 27 - Songs in the show
  • 76 - Miles of audio, video and electrical cables
  • 150 - Wigs used during the show
  • 323.5 - Vinyl records used in the set
  • 876 – Hidden peace signs used in the set design
  • 900 - Costume pieces in the show
  • 1,839 - Speakers inside the Globe Theatre
  • 24,440 - Musical notes in the show’s 27-minute score
  • 54,000 - Video animation cells used during the show
  • 1,541,765 - Feet of rigging inside the Globe Theatre

London Rocks: The Story

The show opens with the feel of London’s rain, and the interactive seats take it from there as we follow along in the life of a young girl named Lucy. Each decade in the progression of British rock-n-roll is represented in the storyline as Lucy grows up and discovers new sounds, groups and solo acts. The show lasts for approximately 30 minutes and includes 27 songs.

London Rocks: The Cast

The casting process for London Rocks took the talent searching team to a variety of places, including New York City where performers were auditioning for a variety of shows, including Broadway venues. London Rocks has a cast of 14 performers. It was double cast to include a total of 28 world-class performers that will put on 6-8 shows a day. The cast was hired specifically for London Rocks.

London Rocks: The Set

With a nod to the theatrical rather than the industrial side, a new stage has been constructed for the show. The monochromatic set represents London’s pre-rock era as it bursts into a colorful psychedelic journey through the heyday of British rock music. Powerful video projectors and nearly 2,000 audio speakers will turn the Globe Theatre into a rock-n-roll mecca for music fans of all ages.

London Rocks: The Sight and Sound

Video-mapping and audio-imaging will envelope the audience and transport them to the scene, making them feel as if they are actually there. Video-mapping is a type of “third-dimension” in video technology where an object becomes the display surface. Specialized software allows an optical illusion to be projected onto stationary objects, making them appear to move and come alive. With audio-imaging, you can close your eyes and picture the scenes and sounds around you.

London Rocks: The Scene

Not only has the Globe Theatre gotten a complete makeover, but the England village itself has taken on a refreshed look with an infusion of British fun and flavor. A Coca-Cola and tea market has been set up across the street from the theatre, along with a double-decker merchandise bus. Fish and chips has been added to restaurant menus.

London Rocks: Groovy Guest Experiences

  • Photo ops with the cast before the show
  • Backstage Tours (at an additional fee) to view the cast lounge, hang out with the cast and see the puppetry and technology departments

London Rocks has been a four year labor of love and will take Busch Gardens’ live performances to an unprecedented level in terms of technological innovation and creative talent. It also marks the return of live entertainment to the Globe Theatre after nearly 20 years.

May 23, 2014 is the official opening date for London Rocks, along with Colossal Curl at Water Country USA.

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Disclaimer: The author attended the Media Hard Hat Tour as part of Busch Gardens’ Ambassador Blogger program. All opinions are strictly those of the author.

London Rocks stage
London Rocks stage Sandy Allen

London Rocks stage

The Globe Theater in the England village at Busch Gardens has been transformed into an extravagant showcase of technology and talent. State-of-the-art lighting and audio, a unique stage floor and a fresh and monochromatic color scheme will take live shows to the next level.

London Rocks stage background
London Rocks stage background Sandy Allen

London Rocks stage background

The background to the monochromatic stage features iconic London attractions in bright pops of color. London Rocks will have a double cast of 14, making 28 performers that were specifically sought out and hired for the show.

Close-up of London Rocks background
Close-up of London Rocks background Sandy Allen

Close-up of London Rocks background

The London Rocks background features a colorful circle of iconic London buildings and attractions, including the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Big Ben. London Rocks will be about 27 minutes long.

Austrian curtain at London Rocks
Austrian curtain at London Rocks Sandy Allen

Austrian curtain at London Rocks

This element of London Rocks amazes me. Austrian curtains were used in traditional stage shows and brought a bit of elegance to the stage. This one is completely computer-controlled. There is nobody backstage pulling it up and down. Also, each individual "tier" of the curtain is able to be moved to different heights and at different times.

Sloped stage of London Rocks
Sloped stage of London Rocks Sandy Allen

Sloped stage of London Rocks

The uniquely sloped stage of London Rocks was designed to bring the show to new heights by enveloping the audience in the sights and sounds of London. 

Stage floor of London Rocks
Stage floor of London Rocks Sandy Allen

Stage floor of London Rocks

The monochromatic color scheme of the London Rocks stage floor features large flowers, hearts and peace signs. There are even "hidden" peace signs within the larger designs.

Artist renderings of London Rocks costumes
Artist renderings of London Rocks costumes Sandy Allen

Artist renderings of London Rocks costumes

Display boards show artistic renderings of the fashionable and colorful costumes and accessories designed specifically for London Rocks at Busch Gardens.

Drawings of London Rocks costumes
Drawings of London Rocks costumes Sandy Allen

Drawings of London Rocks costumes

Artist renderings of the groovy costumes for London Rocks at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The costume designer is VCU professor Toni-Leslie James.

Artist rendering of stage for London Rocks
Artist rendering of stage for London Rocks Sandy Allen

Artist rendering of stage for London Rocks

Display boards with artistic renderings of the colorful background for the London Rocks stage. A monochromatic black and white color scheme is used for the unique stage, and pops of color appear in the background and in the clothing of the performers.

Close-up of artist renderings of London Rocks
Close-up of artist renderings of London Rocks Sandy Allen

Close-up of artist renderings of London Rocks

Monochromatic color schemes combine with pops of bright psychedelic color in the London Rocks set. The show opens on May 23, 2014 in the Globe Theater in the park's England village.

Octopus costume and puppetry for London Rocks
Octopus costume and puppetry for London Rocks Sandy Allen

Octopus costume and puppetry for London Rocks

This is my favorite costume. Spanning several decades and featuring 27 songs, London Rocks tells the story of a girl named Lucy and her family as she grows up. The octopus could only mean The Beatles. And yes, there is even the art of puppetry in London Rocks.

Costume mock-ups for London Rocks
Costume mock-ups for London Rocks Sandy Allen

Costume mock-ups for London Rocks

More examples of costumes and props for London Rocks. The lobby of the Globe Theater will be transformed with British appeal and umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.

Costume mock-up for London Rocks
Costume mock-up for London Rocks Sandy Allen

Costume mock-up for London Rocks

London Rocks stage costumes and British-themed merchandise. It is quite evident from the displays that an immense amount of planning went into the production of Busch Gardens' London Rocks.

Thrill Chaser Official Blogger
Thrill Chaser Official Blogger Busch Gardens Williasmburg

Thrill Chaser Official Blogger

The author is an Official Blogger for Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. Please check back to stay up-to-date on all of the events, shows and attractions - including London Rocks, Colossal Curl and the second annual Food and Wine Festival - happening at the parks.