Behind The Scenes
A lot of planning and effort goes into each new production. Concepts, casting, staging, musical
composition/editing and lighting design are just a few of the artistic elements that need to be
Equally as important are non-artistic elements such as office management, bookings, promotion,
transportation and concessions.
Here you can learn more about our staff, our equipment and the processes that we use to put it all
Concepts, Casting and Staging
Shortly after one production gets on the road, the next production is already being planned. Ideas are
discussed and jotted down, sketches are made and new equipment is considered.
It can take months or even years to plan major changes. This coming year TZ Productions is planning
on adding a new video projection system to the show. This for example has been discussed for several
years, and as it is still being modified to work with new lighting designs and a new sound system.
Additions such as these are not as simple as taking it off the shelf, plugging it in and turning it on.
Once the primary (technical) goals are set, casting begins. Mr Zerbini and the production staff talk
about options. Many of the artists that are to be considered have sent in their materials well in
advance, others are found by contacting agents. Sometimes the artistic concepts are centered around a
particular group of artists that we have found (such as a magic theme, a unique animal presentation or
a musical production). Other times, we try to "fit" individual acts into a common concept.
As the concepts and artist bookings are being finalized work begins on staging and set design. Each
production has unique requirements. Elements such as ring construction, flooring, backstage (space)
layouts, lighting and sound have to be carefully coordinated since a change in one area most often
Music and Lighting
Here are two very important elements which can either make or break a production. General Manager
Larry Solheim works closely with Ringmaster and Performance Director Richard Curtis to determine the
special needs required for each production.
Larry puts together the technical elements of the show which include everything from staging and
rigging to lighting design and musical composition/editing. Larry actually joined the show 25 years ago
as a musician, quickly took over the job as musical conductor and later became the general manager.
Richard works closely with the artists and stage crew to accommodate the individual and production
needs of the show. In addition, he also manages the backstage areas and communication of news and
updates to the cast and crew.
The music is a combination of many elements. In Fort Wayne, IN we open the season with an
incredible 8 piece live band. This band is undoubtedly one of the best the show circuit today. After the
show gets on the road, everything is moved to digital playback. This decision was made several years
ago, when it was getting harder and harder to find high caliber live musicians who were willing to "go
on the road". Not wanting to compromise quality by using musicians of lesser quality we began a quick
transition to digital playback. Although Larry is very busy managing the company, he still puts all the
music together for the show and conducts the live bands.
The music is composed, produced and edited exclusively on computer now. Some of the software used
to compose and create the music is Cakewalk's Sonar, PG Music's Band-in-a-Box, Pro Tools and Adobe
Audition. All scoring and printing is done with Finale. The playback system is based on the a great new
software applicaton from Germany "Ultramixer". For playback of sound effects and other independent
samples, "Ultramixer's" companion software "SampleDecks" is used.
The music comes from various sources (special music the artists may have had written, popular music,
and original compositions. It is important to create the music in such as way as to create the mood or
"feel" of the show without being overbearing or distracting to the performance. Great care is taken to
coordinate the different musical styles seamlessly, while working with the variable timing which results
from a live performance.
The various sound systems that we use are custom designed and included equipment by Eastern
Acoustic Works (EAW), Crown, Behringer, Mackie, DBX, Roland, EMU, Shure and Audio Technica.
The lighting systems are state-of-the-art, and yet must be constantly modified and updated to fit each
production. We combine conventional and intelligent lighting, stage effect and pyro to give the each
show a unique look.
Our primary lighting rig consists of 2 EDI 48 channel dimmers, 144 conventional lights (primarily ETC
Source Fours), 30+ moving lights (High End, Martin & Clay Paky) and our latest addition... the
wonderful Grand MA2 Ultra-Lite Console. Primarily our lighting and sound is purchased from Solotech,
Kloda Focus and Christie Lites. Support on the road is easy when you are dealing with major players
such as these.
Once the lighting and music is put together, it is all controlled by our team of expert technicians.
All productions such as these require a solid front-end. Usually behind the scenes, our Missouri office is
the heart of the operation. Staffed by Harriett Miller and Connie Watts, they handle the day-to-day
operations year round. Communications, contracts, purchasing, DOT compliance and insurance are just
a few of the many things they deal with which keep the show on the road.
On the road, Larry Solheim (General Manager) keeps things running as Mr. Zerbini likes. Daily
responsibilities include production management, artist relations, media relations, purchasing, payroll,
Our promotions are handled differently for different locations. Sometimes the local sponsors handle
things, sometimes we do everything ourselves. The bulk of our tour (Canada) is primarily handled
by iMark Events. The relationship between iMark and TZ Productions has been built over 30+ years.
Together they turned a 10 day (1 city) production into a major 20+ week Canadian tour.
Our concessions are handled exclusively by concessions manager Kory Kuhn. Kory has been with the
company for over 20 years and runs what is reportedly the best concessions operations in the business.