Tasked with creating a magical environment for the opening-night party celebrating the Broadway debut of Disney's “The Little Mermaid,” New York-based McNabb Roick Events had to decide between a blank-slate hotel ballroom and a venue with plenty of personality but filled with faults. Personality prevailed, and McNabb Roick went with Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom — a two-story space with a wraparound balcony. “It's a great space but a little rough around the edges,” says Ty Kuppig, director of design and operations.
The space needed some imaginative tweaking by the event team to fit 1,700 guests for dancing, dining and mingling. “You'd think that in New York there would be no shortage of spaces, but for a party of this size, it's a matter of fitting all the guests and having seating for 60 percent of them,” Kuppig notes.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS
To make the venue event-ready, the McNabb Roick team had to preserve what worked and redefine what didn't. About 80 years ago, the Roseland Ballroom served as a swing-dance spot, Kuppig notes. Since then, the massive venue had seen wear and tear as host to rock concerts and other rowdy events. “There's some really interesting architecture, but there are also areas that are not in the best shape,” Kuppig says.
To make the most of the venue, strategically placed lights highlighted the carved-stone arches on the second floor balcony while sheer panels hung from the 35-foot-high ceiling to lower the cavernous space. “We used [the curtains] as projection surfaces and used intelligent lighting to create moving bubble effects,” Kuppig says. “So there was a constant sense of movement and flow, almost like being underwater.”
Sea-centric details kept the spunky mermaid at the front of guests' minds. Pearly nautilus shells mounted on blue sea glass served as centerpieces on aqua satin linen. A color scheme of aqua, violet and green brought the ocean inside the ballroom. And a spray of bubbles welcomed guests at the venue's entrance.
The guest count forced the event team to get imaginative when finding space for catering and other back-of-the-house tasks. “One issue with the venue is that there is very little dedicated catering space or back-of-house space at all,” Kuppig says. The team took advantage of every nook or cranny to store items or prep food. “We literally used stairwells and closets,” Kuppig says. “It all worked out really nicely; hope-fully, it wasn't evident at the front of the house what exactly was happening.”
McNabb Roick Events 414 E. 52nd St., Suite 1B, New York, NY 10022; 212/944-7784; www.mcnabbroickevents.com