Performed for more than 70,000 people annually, Willow Creek Church’s holiday spectacular “Imagine” combines multimedia, Cirque du Soleil-style aerial effects, and engaging narrative to tell the Christmas story. For their 2007 production, Willow called on their rigging provider of choice, Chicago Flyhouse, to deliver their most impressive staging yet.
Working closely with Willow staff, Flyhouse was key in “Imagine’s” production development throughout the process, contributing technical direction, staging support, and rigging design. Under guidance from Flyhouse, Willow doubled the previous year’s rigging effects, adding multiple flying systems to support simultaneous use throughout the show, including silks, fire, and Spanish web.
In addition to traditional aerial acts, effects included actors “walking on air” in a scene conducted entirely off the ground using Flyhouse’s specially rigged harnesses that allow full body rotation.
In all, Flyhouse installed ten total systems – a three-axis flying system, two manual rigs, and five rigging points supported by three high-speed winches capable of 450ft per minute vertical lift. One of the points Flyhouse installed allowed an aerialist to enter from the ceiling and descend majestically to the stage floor while another rig allowed silks performers to dive in sweeping circles 20 feet deep over the audience.
In addition to heading the design and execution of all aerial effects, Chicago Flyhouse installed and tested all equipment prior to use, trained Willow’s volunteer staff to safely operate all the rigged effects, and delivered fall protection services for the assistants responsible for guiding the aerial performers across the catwalks, and getting them safely in and out of their flying harnesses.
To further guarantee performer and audience safety, Flyhouse fully instructed Imagine’s crew and staff on the proper conduct of inspections and provided inspection sheets to guide and ensure daily checks on every single system used in the show.
Flyhouse is proud of its ongoing relationship with Willow Creek and is pleased to contribute to the ongoing growth and impact of Imagine Christmas.