Stage West Goes to the “Max”

Canada’s Stage West is no ordinary dinner theatre. A truly unique entertainment complex, Stage West combines a magnificent hotel with a first class restaurant and features internationally known television, screen, and stage stars.

Over the past three years the venue has become recognized for its lavish production values. Stage West’s latest offering “California Dreaming” – a musical revue of the “California Sound” from the 60’s to 90’s – is no exception.

Design process

In the early stages of the design process resident Lighting Designer Al McMillan expressed an interest in having an element of projection incorporated into the show. Originally, he had hoped to have five rear screens for the production, but space and staging requirements dictated otherwise. It was finally decided to go with one large rear screen with separate Act 1 and Act 2 positions, in addition to two front screens incorporated into the scenery. Once the screen details were finalized, Allan approached Martin Canada about their new media server, Maxedia. Allan was keen to check out this new offering and he was not disappointed.


When faced with lighting over 75 different songs from such diverse artists as The Doors to Bobby Vinton, Allan wanted to have more than his usual tricks to draw upon. He also wanted to give the Stage West audience something they had not seen at the venue before. As Allan was now responsible for the lighting design and media content of the production, he needed a system that he could quickly learn while providing dynamic content. Maxedia proved the perfect choice. Paul Pelletier from Martin Canada came in for two days to get Allan up to speed. Allan commented, “It was a bit overwhelming at first as to how powerful Maxedia is – you are only limited by your imagination.”

The selection of media Allan utilizes varies from static photographs to abstract compositions created from the wealth of options Maxedia provides. Much of the stock images that came with the system were quite useful and fit the material in the production. “Considering we were using the beta version of the software we had no problems whatsoever,” Allan stated.

Ease of integration

What was also enjoyable for Allan was that many of the images and compositions could be created without the lighting console. Stage West is an extremely busy venue, with over 475 performances per year gracing its stage. Allan created much of the content while other shows were playing onstage, and then simply integrated the Maxedia content into California Dreaming while he was programming the lighting for the show. The end result was simply outstanding. Executive Producer Howard Pechet and General Manager Muhammed Huq are reportedly extremely happy with the outcome.


Not only did Maxedia provide the visual support California Dreaming demanded, but Martin Canada went out of their way to make this happen for Stage West. Allan expressed his thanks to Paul Pelletier from Martin Canada and David Petican from Erickson Pro/Martin Canada.

* Set Design: Samantha Burson
* Lighting and Projection: Allan McMillan
* Assistant Lighting Designer: Nancy McCune
* Maxedia Supplier: Apex Sound and Light
* Sound Design: Chris Jacko
* Scenery Construction: R&I Design

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