Entec shines a light on the ‘Dog Whisperer’

Combining education, storytelling and family entertainment, the legendary Cesar Millan brought his Once Upon A Dog tour to London on March 26th after an enormously successful, whirlwind trip through 16 European cities. Entec’s lighting division supported his one-off Eventim Apollo Hammersmith show, working with production manager Gustavo Reyes Leyva, lighting director Christian Gomez Ruiz and Daniel Scott of event promoter 3A Entertainment.

Known as ‘The Dog Whisperer’ by his legions of TV fans around the world, Millan is the pre-eminent authority in the field of dog rehabilitation, and in his latest live show he performed demonstrations with a number of ‘guest’ dogs, sharing his philosophy of trust, respect and love, and giving valuable lessons through everyday situations.

Based in Los Angeles and Mexico, Cesar’s Way – the company behind Millan – approached 3A to put the London show together on its behalf, as Daniel Scott explained: “Entec has such a solid relationship with the Apollo that we went directly to them to provide the lighting, and it’s worked very smoothly from the start. Their MD, Noreen O’Riordan also helped with the video production, sub-hiring Transition to service that side of the show with projection and cameras. It’s Cesar’s first visit in four years so, having a large fan base here, we correctly anticipated that ticket sales would be very healthy.”

Entec crew chief Simon Chandler-Honnor, who worked alongside Anna Mac and Alessandro Schillaci, described the job as one of his simplest and least stressful to date this year. “We started at 8.00am and had everything all rigged and ready for Christian, the LD, within two hours,” he said.

Trucked to the Apollo by R. Jameson Event Transport, Entec’s kit included Gomez Ruiz’s preferred choice of an MA Lighting grandMA2 full-size console, which controlled a rig containing 22 Martin MAC 700 wash luminaries, 10 Martin Viper profiles, a host of ETC Source Fours and six Thomas 8-lite vertical moles. The company also supplied a pair of Robert Juliat 1800W followspots along with trussing, drapes and borders.

Throughout the day, the space outside the Apollo’s stage door and the interior stairwells was a haven for the visiting canines who awaited their moment of fame. “As with all of Cesar’s shows, the selection process started with the owners applying to appear via his website,” commented Scott. “After the dogs and their owners arrived, Cesar’s team made a selection for him to work with during his show on a range of behavioural issues.”

He continued: “Working with dogs on a live event inevitably means that nothing is straightforward and there’s a lot of paperwork to deal with. There’s a strict code of practice laid down by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Kennel Club of Great Britain that we have to follow. As a consequence, we have brought in vets and specialist temporary staff who are looking after the welfare of the animals, making sure they are fed, watered and safer than they might normally need to be, because this is a very unfamiliar environment for them with bright lights and a lot of cables in the stage wings that we needed to protect with ramps.”

Much to the surprise of Entec’s assistant head of lighting, Adam Stevenson, the company was called upon to provide an unusual extra. “The technical rider included ‘doggie poo pallets’ on the list of must-haves and 3A Entertainment asked if we might have anything of that nature,” he said with a grin. “We discovered some AstroTurf at the back of our container that was left over from another job so we attached it to some pallets, effectively adding another solution to our range of services!”

The dog lovers in the audience were visibly thrilled to catch a rare glimpse of their hero on stage, and lighting tech Anna Mac was equally happy. “After a very busy few weeks spent working on a range of events for Entec, it’s been satisfying to end the run with a relaxed Sunday show.”

Photography by Mark Cunningham