Production company adds pizzazz to corporate events

By: Natalie Shultz

SOUTH TAMPA– Sometimes Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz cast show up at company training workshops to boost morale. Or a group of dancers are called to put on their best rendition of “Lady Marmalade” at a corporate gala. And even a last-minute flight to perform at an event in a tropical destination like Hawaii isn’t out of the ordinary for entertainers at Event Show Productions, Inc.

 

Event Show Productions, Inc.’s Owner Dorene Collier says there has been a high demand for more than 25 years in Florida to bring excitement into events for corporate America. According to the company’s website (www.eventshowproductions.com), Event Show Productions, Inc., or ESP, plans and “produces entertainment for international events” like corporate parties, meetings, tradeshows, special programs, public events and galas, and sends professional dancers, singers, emcees, costumed characters and specialty acts with costumes, choreography, and sound and lighting to work the events and put out the final product.

 

ESP’s most recent big event was the “Passion of the Heart” themed American Heart Ball for the American Heart Association, and the next one on the calendar is a party for the Outback Bowl in December. Schedules for the company’s entertainers are also being booked and coordinated for New Years Eve and the rest of the busy season, which runs from December 31 through early June.

 

Collier, 53, says regular office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, but that everyone’s schedule is always different. She says jobs at ESP are anything but typical, and that although the company’s headquarters is located in South Tampa at 1513 W. Cypress St., Collier says there are weeks when employees are barely at the office.

 

Collier, originally from Miami and a graduate of University of Miami, is used to the hectic schedule of the entertainment industry. While working on her undergraduate degree in business administration and minor in marketing, and dancing to work her way through college, she went on an audition for a dancing part in the Miss Universe Pageant held in Miami. After getting the part, she was offered a marketing internship with Zanadu, the company who did the casting. She says Zanadu was part of the spur of the corporate event planning trend in Miami.

 

“They [Zanadu] began developing the concept of live entertainment at corporate parties back in the 80s when it wasn’t popular. Zanadu was actually a decorating company, and they were asked to do the gala after the pageant, but the people from Miss Universe wanted entertainers there,” Collier said. “A man brought the idea down here from New York and it was the beginning of the whole boom of entertainment at corporate parties.”

 

Collier started ESP in 1991 after moving to Tampa. She says the idea came easy to her because of her love for the entertainment business and dancing, as well as her desire to work for herself.

 

“After working for Zanadu and coming here, I felt there was a need for something like this in the Tampa Bay area. I didn’t want to work for anyone anymore. I see myself as more of an entrepreneurial person, so I decided to start my own business,” Collier said.

 

Collier, who used to travel around the country for the company, says she is content leaving ESP’s entertainers and employees like Cristina Bermudez, who will perform in California for two days later this week and in Orlando this weekend, to do the traveling end of the business these days.

 

“I used to travel all over, but not so much any more. I have children, and I have groomed enough people to do what I do well,” Collier said,

 

Bermudez, 28, has worked for ESP for about seven years. She initially started as an independent contactor, which is what the majority of ESP’s staff is, but she recently became one of the seven all female, full-time employees. She is in charge of ESP’s marketing and sales, as well as maintaining her position as one of the company’s dancers.

 

“She [Collier] put me in this particular position because I’ve been working at the company so long now and I know how everything works,” Bermudez said. “It is so much easier than hiring any random person with a marketing degree off the street because most likely someone on the inside has the same skills and already knows the ropes of the business.”

 

ESP’s building in South Tampa is a 6500 sq. foot warehouse, complete with a room designated for different types of wigs, offices for Collier and the other employees and a costume room, organized by decade on the outer rim of the room and miscellaneous costumes on the inside. Delia Bermudez, Cristina Bermudez’s mother, is the in-house seamstress for ESP.

 

“Whenever we need new costumes, we go to her. We try to keep a set of six costumes for every theme in a variety of sizes,” Bermudez said. “A lot of times for certain jobs, the company we are working for may want a specific costume. Recently we did a butterfly themed party, so my mom had to make a butterfly costume and we get to keep it.”

 

Bermudez says there are so many options for company events, anywhere from themes like the 50s and Western, to props that always keep people guessing. ESP has a huge plastic ball that looks like a bubble and needs a 7-foot clearance wherever it is used. It is inflated with an air blower and one of the dancers climbs inside, is zipped in and can perform in it for no longer than 25 minutes, as the ball rolls around the surface of a swimming pool or floor.

 

“The bubble is always a big hit because it makes people wonder how we get in and out of it. Now we even have company decals that we stick on it as the ball is rolling around,” Bermudez said. “So many people call asking about archways and simple things, so it is nice we can give options because a lot of them really don’t know what is offered.”

 

The themes and concepts for corporate parties and events, Collier says, is what keeps her interested in the entertainment business, because there is such a wide variety of ideas and it always keeps her thinking on her feet.

 

“The most interesting thing about this industry is that every job and every client is different and challenging,” Collier said. “Our company has to get the message of the company we are working for across and what entertainment will best do it, so I am using my business degree at the same time, which is great.”

 

Bermudez says that although she and Collier are two of a small amount of ESP’s staff with actual college degrees, she has seen first-hand how this job has affected other dancers that have partial or no college education.

 

“It has been a blessing in disguise. This job teaches how people how to be very well-rounded. You are traveling and promoting yourself and the company at the same time, so you learn so much,” Bermudez said.

 

Bermudez also says she loves the rush of her job, and that because everything is so different and challenging at each event, there are many things that come up the day of that they can never be too prepared for.

 

“Anything we do for the first time is so exciting. We are secretly giving birth to a new project. It gets pretty chaotic because we are always rushing and doing things last minute. There are almost never dress rehearsals. We usually trouble-shoot 10 minutes before we go on [stage], but it always works out,” Bermudez said. “It’s really rewarding to be able to know I’m part of something that’s great.”

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3 Responses to “Production company adds pizzazz to corporate events”

  1. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    Good story, it kept me interested, but it was a little long.

  2. Shantrell Says:

    Very good and thorough story. You obviously did your job reporting, but the it is a little long.

  3. Aaron Says:

    You have a good attention getter. There is a lot of detail. They have a big building. That surprised me.

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