Saturday, April 5, 2014


Another show about a building…

I, Gregangelo, (sounds like I am about to take an oath) was commissioned to conceive and direct a very specialized performance celebrating the Gala opening of the new state of the art, artful, architectural wonder TERMINAL 3 at SFO (SF Airport) dubbed:

Whisked away by event producers, Winslow and Associates, into the construction site, clad in hardhat and safety vest for a whirlwind site inspection, I was instructed to come up with an immersive spectacle show which was literally to be about the building of the terminal and the people who both constructed and work in it.

Within the elite audience would be every architect, engineer, design firm, contractor, United Airline employees from mid-century to now, and a multitude civic leaders and a few SF Mayors of past and present…all who made this building possible.
There would be no entertaining them with anything but authenticity.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former mayor Willie Brown entertained among the guests during the performance

I left the construction site with a clear vision and as inspired as a child traveling for the first time.
Armed with golden relations with our choreographers, writer, choral director, and multitude of artists, as well as a vast past-repertoire that could be adapted and merged to fit the specific demands of this assignment…I set to work.

I outlined the concept within a few hours and than dove into a writing session with two-time Emmy Award winning lyricist and collaborator Rita Abrams to bring a song and brief script about the construction of the airport to life…

The performance was to be a hybrid Acting/Choral/Dance/Drumming/Acrobatic “Flash-Mob” with all of the characters being a “San Francentric” combination of: Architects, draftsmen, engineers, construction workers, custodians, shop keepers, pilots, flight attendants, passengers, SF cops, security, Mick Jagger, his posse, and some screaming fans (read on). ..

Jacqie Loia, our skilled sales and event design associate presented it to Lynne and Tina at Winslow, over lunch the concept was approved, and we got to work!

Now we had 5 days to produce a site and subject specific, one-of-a-kind profound spectacle… which would under normal circumstances take 6 weeks- %$#@!

Of course there was a bit of turbulence on the short journey, but nothing that set us back. The chorus which we collaborate with from Ruth Asawa’s SOTA was on a job at Carnegie Hall in NYC and not available.  So, within a day, we formed and rehearsed our own brand new adult “Velocity Chorus”. Two of our principle singers were not available, so we recast them. The drum corps we usually work with was in Brazil, so we quickly built relations with a new one.

It was amazing to experience how “terminally dedicated” every artist and crew member was in showing up, despite the fact of being derailed from other current projects.  The well poised Angie Doctor, the artist in residence/director of the SOTA choir stepped off a plane from NYC, met us at terminal 3, polished our “virgin” chorus last minute backstage and got on stage herself to sing.

I even had artists calling me asking to be part of it. Of course I said yes to all.
Everyone focused wholeheartedly to bring this ambitious performance to light within a seemingly impossible timeline.

Here is how our script and show played out:

A single architect from Gensler Design firm (played by Galen) takes the stage following dinner to make closing remarks which on cue burst into a musical #. He is joined by a draftswoman, designer, flight attendant, and construction worker, all of who progressively unify to sing the story of the building.

Slyly integrated and divided into 5 groups at  the  periphery of the guests, the new Velocity chorus pose as Architects, draftsmen, engineers, construction workers, custodians, shop keepers, pilots, flight attendants, passengers, caterers, SF cops, and security. They commence their professional activities, take their spots on cue and join in at the bridge of the song, surrounding the audience in unexpected tune.


At the crescendo, the flight attendant announces: UA flight #: 257 from New York 's JFK Airport, has just landed, carrying a notorious personage who "just can't get no satisfaction." And out from the airline gate come Mick Jagger and his posse of girls and the United flight crew and passengers who all break out into a Dance Flash-mob to “Moves like Jagger”. The chorus at the periphery of the room now transform to dancers and screaming/fainting fans, storm through the audience, and hype up the performance.


At the finally, the announcement is:   Attention, Passengers.  UA flight #: 595 is now arriving from New Orleans' Mardi Gras, carrying a restless crew that's itchin' for you San Franciscans  to RISE UP AND ROCK with them!! Out from United gate 16 come a Brazilian Drum Corp led by our favorite Queen of the Samba, Maisa, who I clad in fanciful retro “stewardess” regalia. Once on stage, the dancers join the drummers in a percussive “Stomp” like performance and a construction crew of dancers appears in the buildings upper catwalks.


When the stage performance is done, all 80 artists immerse into the crowd, get every guest up and parade them towards the dance area, which is Eric Staller’s wonderful kinetic installation titles “SPIROGYRATE” for the terminal 3 children’s play area.
At the parade destination, a Velocity acrobat in his illuminated CYR wheel apparatus entertains a most enthusiastic crowd.


On the parade journey, 3 Velocity gravity defying “mechanic” acrobats ascend from the central terminal and entertain the crowd with high flying tumbling antics.

Vigorous Dancing and photo opts ensue late into the evening with the cast and guests

Velocity Airlines drag queen flight attendant inspires and delights

A special thanks to our acting and choral casting director, Bettina Devin, a most versatile Film, TV, and Stage actor and teacher, and a brilliant artist who I have developed a character and type cast as the Golden Gate Bridge!

SF Ambassador Ms GG Bridges with Mayor (at the time this photo was taken) Gavin Newsom at another grand civic event a few years back

A little hanky panky behind the scenes

In the middle of the event the new United 787 “Dreamliner” pulls up to gate 16 and invites all guests aboard for up-close and personal tours led by United Captains and Flight Attendants.

Following our performance, I was ushered aboard that plane by our stage manager, Patty Z, and met many proud designers, engineers and crew all celebrating their accomplishments.

Though aboard a grounded airplane with no destination, all “passengers” seemed to be elated and flying high.

Me in first class… on a grounded plane… *&$%! perhaps next time I can be in one of these seats when it is flying….

Many guests approached me with accolades regarding our performance, and to my entertainment and delight the #1 comment was an exclamative:
“How did you teach all of the SFO staff to do that?!”

I guess we did indeed perplex them and entertain them!
Mission accomplished…FOR NOW.

Will the real staff please stand up!

Artistic Director
Velocity Arts & Entertainment
Velocity Circus
San Francisco
415 664-0095

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