Behind the scenes of Justin Timberlake: The Forget Tomorrow World Tour

The singer-songwriter’s latest live offering lives up to his unfaltering legacy of providing crowds jaw-dropping moments with creative teams behind the scenes working in tandem with technical and engineering specialists to craft an unmissable spectacle.

Marking Justin Timberlake’s long-awaited return to the touring circuit after a five-year hiatus, the Forget Tomorrow World Tour hit the road in Vancouver on 29 April to widespread acclaim and has turned the heads of those in live entertainment industry ever since. Behind the scenes, a talented troupe of creatives, technicians, engineers and support teams work tirelessly to transform an ambitious vision into a reality. Conceived and created by Justin Timberlake in collaboration with Production Director, Baz Halpin of Silent House, the 26-truck strong tour is a testament to the singer-songwriter’s enduring legacy of providing audiences with never-seen-before moments of performative art underscored by technical ingenuity.

Having built the foundation of the tour in tandem with Production Director, Robert ‘Hydro’ Mullin, Production Manager, Luke Larson – formerly stage manager on 2018’s Man of the Woods Tour – handled the advance, planning the logistics of moving this show from venue to venue. “My prior knowledge of the camp is helpful in the sense that I’m aware of the workflows,” he stated. “The attitude of the artist trickles from the top down on this tour. When we face challenges, we pivot to make the show happen regarding the intricacies of each venue without detriment to the overall vision.”

Speaking to TPi 15 shows into the cycle from Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, Larson recalled the embryonic stages of the project: “We initially hung half of the rig at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Arena for a week in March to see how the show would piece together. We soon realised how heavy this show is, with a very concentrated load, which is demanding for a lot of venues. For many dates, we are simply unable to load the show in its full capacity due to the sheer weight of the rig. We also spent a month in Vancouver with the show 100% together with the tech, choreography and musical direction before the first show.”

The technical suppliers of choice included TAIT (automation and staging), Solotech (audio, lighting, rigging and video), eps (barricades), Dreamliner (crew travel), Rock-it Cargo (freighting), and Truck’N Roll (logistics). “All our vendors are at the top of their game. On a show of this size and budget, we have the option to handpick the vendors we want to work with,” the PM remarked.

“From the inception to the delivery, with some complicated elements, we’ve put a lot of talented people on board to develop the custom elements of the show to handle the automation in line with TAIT. It’s quite a feat of engineering and the results speak for themselves,” said Lee Moro, Solotech Senior Vice President of Business Development.

“As this tour heads overseas, there are costs Solotech can offset using our vast network of global offices, compliant with the varying regional regulations and certifications; providing crew with information and resources before they need it. There is also a budget to be considered, so when you’re facilitating equipment for all departments, we concentrated heavily on the business and financials. There are efficiencies associated with a turnkey solution by centralising equipment, for example.”

A familiar face to the Justin Timberlake camp, having been a touring member of the team in his past life, Solotech Vice President of Operations, John Flynn, added: “We know the high standard, speed and efficiencies they expect because transporting 26 trucks worth of gear into arenas isn’t easy. It’s ‘A-level’ touring. We have a lot of people intrinsically tied to the camp, which also helps with troubleshooting,” Flynn commented. “Putting so much weight in the roof means there are sacrifices made by all departments to create the most efficient show possible while also making the creative vision a reality. Uniting as a team instead of operating departments, collaborating with TAIT on things like cable management, load-in and -out processes, and combined rigging plots.”

The creative team behind the production included: Choreographer, Marty Kudelka; Musical Director and Programmer, Adam Blackstone of BASSic Black Entertainment; Lighting Designer, Cory FitzGerald of Silent House; Video Content Designer, Gabriel Coutu Dumont of Silent Partners Studios; Design Producer, Vincent Richards of Silent House; IMAG Executive Director, Sam Wrench of Good Cousin; Creative Consultants, Archie Lee Coates IV and Jeff Idehen of PlayLab, Inc. “Justin’s shows are renowned for unique use of entertainment technology; it’s become the cornerstone of his shows, and this one doesn’t deviate from that,” Larson noted.

Read the full story below…

Words: Jacob Waite