Despite the fact that Jennifer Lopez appears to be aging backward, the singer-dancer-actress is actually celebrating a milestone birthday on July 24. And in honor of her 50th, she recently hit the road, performing old favorites like “Waiting For Tonight” and “I’m Real” as well as newer tunes like “Medicine” featuring French Montana on the It’s My Party tour. The show has racked up some rave reviews since opening night at the Forum in Los Angeles on June 7, proving that J.Lo can be the life of the party even on the grandest of scales.
So, what can the audience expect from this extravaganza? Much like Lopez’s 2016 Las Vegas residency All I Have, the show spans her entire two-decade music career (yes, her debut album On the 6 turned 20 this year), but her big birthday is decidedly the night’s theme. Production designer Cory Fitzgerald and lighting designer Alex Reardon of Silent House Productions weren’t sure about the exact number of balloons, which descend on the stage at the beginning and end of the show, but let’s just say that crews at arenas across the country will be cleaning up a lot of latex in the next few weeks. “The balloons were a big concept for her as far as opening the show with this big party feel,” says Fitzgerald, who designed Lopez’s set in Las Vegas as well as her blowout Super Saturday Night gig ahead of the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. And the number dropped is “sufficient to cover the stage and get into the audience,” says Reardon.
The show is broken up into acts that call for various structures, all meticulously designed to the perfect size to accommodate intricate choreography. “We are one cog in this under the direction of [creative directors Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo of NappyTabs], so as soon as they have a concept for a scenic piece, they bring us in to design it, but also simultaneously they work with choreographers to work out how the physical function of the piece is going to be interpreted by those performing on it. It is very much led by them. We all collaborate together to figure out, ‘Okay, how much space do you need on this thing? Well, you need four feet. We therefore make each ring four feet.’”
Some standout set pieces include a wine-glass chandelier underneath which Lopez is suspended in a ring, a train-shaped box made of video tiles which can serve as both a New York City subway prop (she is still Jenny from the block, after all) and a DJ booth, and a chaise lounge made for a sexy number. And of course, no birthday party is complete without cake, which in this case is a three-tiered structure that serves as the B stage. “It elevates with each layer going up by three-foot-six. The cake is all LED [lights], so that can become anything—at the end it becomes a cake,” says Reardon. “Other structural elements include a kinetic lighting rig over the B stage which animates throughout the show. We have a bi-parting LED stage, which is a great reveal and very useful to bring her and the props in and out.”
Of all the different elements, Fitzgerald says, the grand finale was a favorite when he saw the show on opening night: “The ending section—the Latin or EDM section—was the most high energy, and kind of re-envisioned in a way that we had never done before. It is primarily a dance show. She is a fabulous dancer and singer. It is all about movement and choreography, but they really upped the game by bringing in other Latin dance groups and pushing the envelope.”
For Reardon, it was impossible to pick just one standout moment: “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I can count using the fingers on one hand the artists that are able to create such an authority on stage and to hold the emotions of every audience member throughout and guide them in this incredible way. It was something that I was really blown away by.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest