Superdrug Starstruck

Superdrug recently took over Grosvenor House and hosted a talent competition for its employees. DesignScene produced the charity fundraising event…

DesignScene delivered glitz, glamour, imagination and excitement – including the full creative concept, technical production and the sourcing of artists and performers – for Starstruck, the 2010 Superdrug charity fundraising event, modelled on an X-Factor/Brit Awards/Best of British theme, including a full “pop star” talent competition.

The event took place at London’s Grosvenor House Ballroom and was attended by 700 top Superdrug personnel and suppliers, raising almost 250,000 for three nominated charities – Cancer Research UK, Childline and the Teenage Cancer Trust.

DesignScene worked in conjunction with CL Events, which took care of all the administration, sponsorship deals and selling elements.

The event was presented by Justin Lee Collins and included a full sit down dinner and live auction, with a silent auction running throughout the evening, all punctuated with music, dance and entertainment plus the Starstruck talent competition.

Hot contest

Starstruck was open to Superdrug head office staff and selected suppliers. The hopefuls initially recorded their audition pieces in a video booth at Superdrug’s HQ in Croydon from which the six finalists were selected out of a host of entries.

DesignScene recruited top sessions musicians, the All Stars Collective as the house band for the night, and sourced dancers and a leading chorographer, who produced some spectacular bespoke production numbers that featured prominently throughout the evening’s entertainment.

The talent show finalists were each given 10 hours professional coaching – singing, dancing movement, stage presence – before making their appearances on stage, backed by the house band and accompanied by the dancers.

They were voted on by the attendees, which proved another lateral approach to stimulating audience participation and simultaneously raising the stakes for the charities.

Glamorous staging

The production design was created by DesignScene’s Attila Keskin, who also co-ordinated the technical production – including lighting, sound, AV, rigging and draping for which DesignScene asked several regular and prominent companies onboard as technical partners.

One of several challenges was the extremely tight timeframe for all the equipment to be got into the venue and rigged, with a half day pre-rigging day and then a full day, which went straight into the show.

The room design featured an end-on stage – inspired by the recent MTV Europe Awards event – an unusual configuration for the Grosvenor Ballroom, where the side on stage is more commonly used. Concept Staging from Manchester installed a T-shaped stage, with a catwalk coming out from the centre front to bring the action right out into the audience. This was also to introduce hints of fashion and glamour to the process in keeping with the Superdrug brand image as fashion conscious beauty retailers. For the after-party, this also became part of the dancefloor.

Safe Sets provided the high gloss finish stage floor covering and also made up graphics boards, which were distributed around the venue, displaying information and sponsors logos.

All lit up

Lighting equipment was supplied by Essential. The rig had to be flexible and dynamic to provide plenty of variety and to light the different sections of the evening appropriately. A trussing grid was installed over the stage matching the shape of the stage and catwalk, which was rigged with an assortment of fixtures. Onstage, there were four vertical trusses behind an 85 panel PIXLED F25 LED semi-transparent screen onstage, with another two trussing columns onstage.

The vertical trusses were loaded with 2-lites and Atomic strobes with colour changers. Having these upstage of the screen allowed light to be blasted through so the screen disappeared, introducing a totally new dimension, look and feel of the space, and also enlarging it considerably. When not on, the lighting and metalwork was completely concealed.

Wired for sound

Britannia Row installed an Outline Butterfly sound system, consisting of four hangs – left and right and two half way down the room on the chandelier points – each comprising five Outline boxes and one Mantis cabinet with 120 degree dispersion. Eight Outline Subtech 218 subs were ground stacked at the front of the stage, and for nearfield fills there were two Butterflies on top of the subs and Turbosound 440s, which were used for the aftershow party.

Front of house was mixed by Nick Maddren, using a Yamaha PM5D console, and monitor engineer Chris Beddal utilised another PM5D. The stage Monitors were a mix of 6 channels of Sennheiser G2 IEMs and 10 Turbosound 450 wedges. The Butterfly system was driven by Powersoft T9 amps and Yamaha Turbo TSNs were used for the 440 fills.

A full mics and stands package included Sennheiser 5200 systems for the presenters and Sennheiser SKM 500s for the guest vocalists and contestants.

Party to end all parties

To top the evening, DesignScene asked renowned pop music club phenomenon Guilty Pleasures to provide the after show party, bringing a memorable evening to a lively and fun conclusion.

DesignScene had special removable handrails fabricated for the catwalk that were put in place for the VIP reception in the Ballroom at the start of the evening, removed for the show and then reinstated for the after-party when the runway became part of the dancefloor.