A crowd can sit and clap, or they can buzz and interact. Many event planners are opting for the buzz factor with interactive entertainment, which can cost less than traditional entertainment yet reap major rewards (and ROI). Here, event planners detail different approaches to interactive entertaining — from all-out to simple but smart.
Up Today Communication in Brussels, Belgium, proves that even ambience can be interactive. For a November birthday party, the team of Arnaud van der Smissen and Valerie Graindorge created an event that mimicked the feel of a ship sinking for a boat-loving client — and guests felt all at sea.
To set the scene, the team decked out an Airstar inflatable dome with white lounge furniture “like you'd find on the deck of yachts,” Graindorge notes. At first, projections on the walls included dolphins, whales and sexy girls water-skiing with the sound of waves and seagulls adding to the feeling of being on a yacht. Then, a “storm” hit. The images pitched wildly as if the “yacht” had hit rough waters; powerful fans mimicked high winds, and the event team tossed small amounts of water in front of the fans, creating a fine spray of mist. In fact, the effect of a rocking ship was so believable, some guests had to steady their balance. Next, the party “sank,” indicated by underwater projections of schools of fish through giant portholes. The whole effect achieved Up Today's goals: getting the guests “to feel rather than simply observe,” Graindorge says.
THE SEXY CIRCUS
Restaurant One Sunset in Los Angeles celebrated its first anniversary in December with an adult twist on a childhood theme. With the help of entertainment company Zen Arts in Los Angeles, Kimberly Seeherman, owner and head event coordinator of Fabulous Events in West Hollywood, Calif., turned the upscale One Sunset into a circus for grownups. Seeherman scattered small stages throughout the “Child's Play” event, where guests could watch rag doll acrobats and a “Tin Man,” à la “The Wizard of Oz,” contortionist. To add to the fun, a rock-n-roll ringleader and a “naughty clown” walked on stilts throughout the event, while “a sexy Little Bo Peep inquired about her sheep, and Oompa-Loompas made sure that guests had their fill of candy,” Seeherman says. The undersized stages and interactive elements are ideal for casual events, “where entertainment must be smaller but omnipresent,” she adds.
SWANS AMONG US
Entertainment went low-key at a January event for top clients of Skokie, Ill.-based Eved Services. Performers from Chicago-based Redmoon Theater wore illuminated swan headdresses and glided through the event to create “an image of swans in flight,” says Alexis Feczko, director of client experience. Feczko said the swans are a good example of event planners getting more for their money — both entertainment and decor, in this case. On top of that, the swans were “gentle enough to incorporate into a reception setting of only 60 guests,” Feczko says, and “a phenomenal conversation-starter.”
MOVE IT, MOVE IT
If you want a party started right, a band that can get the crowd dancing is key. If guests sing and play instruments with the band as well, all the better. For a May wedding, Christina Domasky, event designer for resort Nemacolin Woodlands in Farmington, Pa., tapped Andy Kushner of Andy Kushner Entertainment for just the right entertainment mood-setter: the VIPS, a live karaoke band that “guests go wild for,” Kushner says. True to form, the VIPS ensured party guests of all ages danced up a storm — when they weren't singing or playing tambourines or conga drums. “During one of the songs, one of the grandmothers grabbed me and started dancing,” Domasky says. And those not at the party were evidently envious — the rocking reception encouraged some party-crashing from resort guests and requests from resort staff to sing with the band.
For artistic flair, tap an artist for an event, as Joella Hopkins, CSEP, CMP, did. Hopkins, president of Simply Mumtaz Events in Burbank, Calif., wanted to “keep the class and elegance of a seated awards dinner but also add some pizzazz” to the Midnight Mission's 2009 Golden Heart Awards at the Beverly Hills [Calif.] Hotel in May, a high-end “budget” awards dinner, Hopkins says. So she brought in Event Painting by Agnes and set the artist up “in the front of the ballroom, stage right, with a spotlight on her,” Hopkins notes. Agnes painted the event, making sure to include key attendees. “It was almost passive in a way, but inviting, intriguing each guest to find their way to her spot to see what she was doing,” Hopkins says. “You could feel the buzz about the painting.”
Andy Kushner Entertainment
Event Painting by Agnes
Simply Mumtaz Events
Up Today Communication