Britney’s Las Vegas show really is a piece of her. Tour director Baz Halpin tells Billboard he’s working tirelessly on designing the production, visuals and lighting for her show kicking off December 27.
“It’s sort of like a visual variety show in that we’re touching on all the things that excite her,” Halpin explains to Billboard in an exclusive interview about “Piece of Me.” “It’s pieces of her imagination, pieces of her dreams and pieces of her life.”
“The level of detail in this show is ridiculous,” says Halpin, who’s worked on tours with Katy Perry, P!nk and Taylor Swift. “I get into the office at 7 a.m. and probably put down the phone at 11 p.m. It’s non-stop every day.”
Halpin attended dance auditions at CenterStaging in Burbank last week and knows the opening show is just around the corner.
Britney’s performing nearly 100 shows over the course of two years at her newly constructed theater inside Planet Hollywood. “The reconstructed facility features state-of-the art video technology, an elevated anchor-shaped stage with a surrounding dance floor beneath, private tables and couches with bottle service, and traditional tiered seating with enough room for dancing.”
Britney’s described the show as a party start to finish.
“Visually, the show is going to be extraordinary, especially in such a small environment where you’re not used to seeing her,” Spears’ manager Larry Rudolph tells Billboard outside of CenterStaging’s Studio 10, where dance auditions are taking place. “She’ll be able to see everybody’s face in the entire theater.”
Britney’s said before she’s more nervous performing in front of smaller crowds versus large arenas because of how intimate the setting is, but for her Vegas show she’ll have 14 dancers and a four-piece band to back her up.
She’ll perform 21 of her greatest hits as well as several songs off the new album. “It’s very difficult to take all those songs in the context on a 100-minute show and make them all work musically together, because you have ‘Work *****’ on one hand and ‘…Baby One More Time’ on the other,” says Halpin, who also worked on Cher’s three-year residency at Las Vegas’ Colosseum at Caesars Palace in 2008. “They’re incredibly different sonically. So we’ve taken every piece of music in the show and — if it’s an older hit — given it a modern, new and interesting take on it. Some of the newer hits we’ve worked into medleys.”
Although she’s performing songs throughout her expansive career, Halpin admitted there’s a homage to 2008’s “Circus” album.
“In this visual variety show, we’re trying to make each act the most vivid representation of her dreams as possible — what she thinks, what her imagination is and what’s inside her head,” Halpin explains. “We’ve utilized the most state-of-the-art technology. A lot of it is groundbreaking stuff that we haven’t done before.”
The theater features a 300-foot projection screen that wraps around the inside custom-built walls of the theater.
“The lobby will have all sorts of cool and interesting memorabilia, bars and some secret things I can’t tell you about that will involve the audience in the show,” he says. “When they walk into the theater, they’re not walking in with house lights on with an usher showing them to their seats; they’re walking into a massive club. When the show starts, it becomes an extension of the club. Britney becomes the main event of this club.”
But don’t expect the show to remain the same over the next two years. Halpin says the show’s designed to be flexible.
“If you go see Britney in December and then go see her six months after that, there’s no guarantee it’s going to be the same show,” he says. “It’s structured so that over the next two years, as she continues to create new music, the show will swap in and out.”
Halpin declined on getting into the specifics of budgets, but so far so good.
“You get nervous about budgets, because you usually have creatives on one side and accountants on the other. They don’t like to meet in the middle,” he says. “Everybody gets the importance of this show and everybody is 100% onboard with trying to make sure they deliver [Spears’] vision.”
There’s been speculation Britney will lip-synch through the show, but rest assured she’ll bring it and give fans what they deserve.
“She’s more focused on singing than she is on dance. But it’s still a 100% dance show,” he says. “She’s known for her iconic dance routines. The choreography she’s done is iconic. So she’s got to bring that. That means sometimes there are background vocals in the chorus. That’s the nature. But it’s not 100% lip-syncing, either. She fully intends on singing the show.”