Feld Debuting Rehearsal Space

Tour rehearsals can often be a zoo but for the producer of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” fitting clowns, acrobats, elephants, horses, lions, tigers and zebras under one roof is all in a day’s work. 

Massive productions such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, “Disney On Ice” and “Monster Jam” helped make Feld Entertainment virtually synonymous with family-friendly tours, and also helped the company develop a great deal of expertise in large-scale outings over the years.

Now, Feld is placing its bets on a new venture with the debut of a rehearsal facility that will open its doors to outside tours in 2015.

The company has spent the past year moving its global headquarters to the Feld Entertainment Studios complex in Ellenton, Fla., that features more than 100,000 square feet of rehearsal space alongside Feld’s offices.

Feld Entertainment Chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld told Pollstar he sees the facility as a one-stop shop for productions that might need anything and everything from rehearsal space to set, costume or merchandise design and manufacturing.

“We’re vertically integrated as a company, so for all of our productions, we do everything,” he said. “We could do that for anybody else. We could build the entire set 30 feet away from where the rehearsal area is. When you have a rehearsal if there’s certain things you need fixed, the shop is right there. It would just be a matter of savings on transportation.”

Costumes can be manufactured, fitted and altered at Feld Entertainment Studios, as well as consumer products and merchandise, which can be fabricated, imported and product-safety tested. Lighting and sound rigs can be built on site, and the building has cranes to hang truss and replicate arena setups, plus multiple loading docks for semis.

The rehearsal facility has already been put to the test by Feld’s “Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure” and “Nuclear Cowboyz,” which are both now on tour.

For 2014, the space will be home to rehearsals for Marvel Universe Live!, a new “Disney On Ice” production and two new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shows.

Feld said the company wanted to try out the facility on its own shows before leasing to outside tours to ensure the space would meet the needs of productions and be the best it could possibly be.

To that end, “Marvel Universe Live!” has served as a pretty gigantic guinea pig for the rehearsal studios.

Feld calls the production “the largest touring arena show that I believe has ever been produced,” and says the stunts and effects featured in the show have only been seen in movies previously.

“I equate it to producing a film live eight times a week,” he said. “I think people will be astounded by what we’re able to do. A lot of that is because we’ve been able to do a lot of research and development over the past half-year in this facility. “We were able to test various projection systems, various laser systems, and various pyrotechnics. It’s just been extraordinary. I think when people see what we created they will be blown away.”

Large-scale extravaganzas aren’t all the studios can handle, however. Another part of making the facility the best it could be meant offering high-quality acoustics, sound and lighting systems for touring artists.

“We made a huge investment and brought in acoustical engineers so the acoustics in the rehearsal space are really quite extraordinary,” Feld said. “We probably have more electrical capability than almost any venue in the country, as well as the ability to hang more than any show when it’s distributed throughout. If you’re in the round, or you’re an arena show, we have the weight capabilities to handle whatever any tour would have.”

Currently, the space features a 55-foot ceiling and a room that is 290 feet long by 90 feet wide.

Improvements are also being done on another, larger room that will offer tours the ability to rehearse different components in the two spaces.

Feld said the building, which can also be used for corporate events, will be open for rentals beginning March 2015.

Tours are available for interested parties.