Sunday April 20, 2014





Grooving with the Grey Cup show

'There will be pyrotechnics and flames and lasers and all sorts of stuff'

Robert Sondergaard, a Kam High graduate who grew up in Kamloops, is the production designer for the 100th Grey Cup.

When the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders take a break during the 100th Grey Cup, the halftime show watched by millions will have a Kamloops touch.

That's because the show's production designer, Robert Sondergaard, first practiced the art of lighting with school plays while a student at Kam High, now South Kamloops secondary.

He was putting the finishing touches on the much anticipated halftime show on Friday, which includes lighting and other special effects that will accentuate performances by an array of Canadian music icons.

"There will be pyrotechnics and flames and lasers and all sorts of stuff," Sondergaard said. "I think we've created what will be a very exciting show."

Sondergaard doesn't want to say too much, lest he spoil the surprise for viewers who tune into the Sunday game, which begins at 3 p.m. on TSN.

But he would say pop stars Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen, rock band Marianas Trench and balladeer Gordon Lightfoot will be on stage for about 17 minutes in total, with each allotted three to four minutes to perform.

He'd been in Toronto for nine days when The Daily News reached him by cellphone. He said a lot of the work at the Rogers Centre has to be done at night when the stadium isn't in use or around the teams' schedules.

Fortunately, Sondergaard has a crack group of 20 technicians and as many as 200 volunteers to help him put everything together. That includes video and lighting technicians and people with strong backs to lift props on wires.

"We want to acknowledge the past and history of the CFL," he said of the show, adding there will be images and video from the game's 100-year history.

"Also, we want to acknowledge the youthful side and bring in new fans."

Sunday's show has been two years in the making. Sondergaard, who owns Electric Aura Projects in Vancouver, was recruited by Patrick Roberge Productions to design the performance.

Sondergaard adapted his ideas into 3D models to show the powers that be at the CFL, who liked the design. As time passed, the show changed as the league gave input and the performers signed on.

"It's a very long process," he said. "As things happen and ideas develop, it's morphed completely from what we started with."

Sondergaard graduated from Kam High in 1989 knowing he wanted a career in theatre. He furthered his studies at The Banff Centre before moving to Vancouver, where he's worked in stage, film, TV and created designs for the Pacific National Exhibition.

This is not Sondergaard's first Grey Cup. He was also production designer on the 99th Grey Cup in Vancouver, which featured rock band Nickelback, and the 98th game featuring Bachman-Turner Overdrive.


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