Demi Lovato was heading off to Spain, France and the United Kingdom for another big outing with the Jonas Brothers, to return to the U.S. in June for her first headlining gig.
“I really don’t practice my show,” Lovato told Pollstar. “I think I have two days of rehearsals. I don’t really have choreographed moves or anything. I just go out there and perform. I change it up each show but it’s not like we go into the studio and rehearse.”
Yes, Disney Channel’s top star (Lovato’s vehicle, “Sonny With A Chance,” is the No. 1 rated show on TV among kids 6 to 11) plans to hop on those arena stages with her mic and maybe a guitar and just rock out. But something told Pollstar that Disney would want a wee bit more production value.
Word is, the “two days of rehearsals” is more like a week. And with “American Idol” runner-up David Archuleta along for the ride, the staging will likely be massive.
Debra Rathwell, the veteran AEG promoter who worked point for the “Hannah Montana / Miley Cyrus” tour as well as The Cheetah Girls and a host of other Disney tours, made clear this wasn’t going to be a stripped-down affair.
“As a concert promoter, I’m always asking, ‘How few trucks and how small can it be?’” Rathwell said. “And Disney will say, ‘No, no, no, Debra, this is Disney! It’s going to be done properly and there has to be some bells and whistles.’”
Buena Vista Concerts, the Disney company that produces the show, could not tip its hand. But Chip McLean, BVC’s senior VP and general manager, joked that Lovato wasn’t just going to “parachute onto the stage” for the first night of the show, and was happy to tell Pollstar some of the production details.
For instance, the staging will be designed by the same man who put together the Jonas Brothers’ show and be built by Tait Towers, which handled Bon Jovi’s latest stage. But obviously everybody wants to make sure the audience has some surprises.
Meanwhile, Disney has the marketing on schedule. Advertisements for the tour are appearing on the Disney Channel, usually during “Sonny With A Chance,” of course. The newest album is about to drop and a DVD of “The Princess Protection Program,” the latest Disney television movie for Lovato and friend Selena Gomez, will be placed in stores four days after its June 26 debut.
Everything is falling into place. Yet, with all of the requirements placed upon a Disney commodity like Lovato, she does not expect to fly back and forth from L.A. between shows. It’s a tour; that’s it.
“There will always be press, but that’s just a day-to-day thing,” she said. “I’m going to focus on the shows, of course. That’s what the whole tour is about – to be in front of the fans who took the time out of their day to come see me.”
Meet-and-greets become more difficult as stars climb, but it’s been a big part of the game plan. During last summer’s tour with the Jonas Brothers, Lovato, promoting Don’t Forget, did two meet-and-greets per day.
“The first meet-and-greet had 30 people in it and then the second one was, like, the 500 people who preordered the CD,” she said. “They got a free meet-and-greet after the show. So, I would stay up until two in the morning and it was awesome.”
One would think she would have been asleep in the bed of a tour bus, traveling to the next town.
“Yeah, well, we really didn’t have anything to do other than the concert the next day, and that wasn’t until later so it was fun.”
“Demi has not taken any shortcuts,” said CAA’s Brian Manning, who books Lovato alongside agent David Zedeck (known for years as the agent for acts like *Nsync, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears). “From clubs, to fairs and festivals as well as in supporting roles, she has worked her tail off and paid her dues. It is gratifying to see Demi come into her own and headline her first tour.”
For Lovato, the month of May was about performing with the Jonas Brothers in other countries. For everyone else, it was about the tour launch back in the States.
“We just got off a conference call, talking about the tour, and just been sitting here working through some of the dates and thinking about some of the marketing over Memorial Day weekend,” Rathwell said. “The first date is coming up June 21, which is pretty quick in the showbiz world. Everything gets lost around Memorial Day and I wanted to be completely set up coming back in.”
The show will be going to arenas but will be configured in theatre setup – which means packed houses. The shows hit big cities like Boston and Seattle, but McLean made clear there’s a reason why Duluth, Omaha and Fresno are the majority of the stops: because of the excitement factor. He has seen (make that heard) how grateful tweens in Bakersfield can be when their heroes come visit.
Rathwell made clear, too, that Lovato has done her part to make June and July successful.
“She’s done so much work,” Rathwell said. “She’s laid all the groundwork. Now it’s my job to market, market, market, get tickets, sell them and get [the fans] in. We don’t leave until August when she goes off to make another movie.”