Begin at the Beginning
When you begin at the beginning with planning an event, you are usually involved many months before it actually begins.
This stunning dinner held at Melbourne Park Function Centre, which caused an industry sensation, is a perfect case in point, when it came to themed event design and coordination. evoke event staging wanted to present many different event ideas to the guests so that they could be inspired and use them for their own events.
Three months before this dinner, Lara Harley, Sales Manager – Business Events for Melbourne and Olympic Parks, called evoke with an idea to create a one-off experience that celebrated food, wine and one that dramatically re-interpreted the Melbourne Park Function Centre. It was to be an experience for only a few but one so magnificent that it would be talked about, shared and remembered. This was the starting point and it was over to the team at evoke event staging to start working on the idea of “Alice” – but not any old “Alice in Wonderland” would do!
“It was to be an experience... so magnificent that it would be talked about, shared and remembered.”
“Curiouser and curiouser!”
Working with event partners such as Microhire, Placesettings, Action Events, Delaware North, Solution Entertainment and Event Plants, we used the idea of a secret dinner for our event design and styling – one that not even the guests would know was about to unfold. Guests arrived to a bare room where nothing out of the ordinary was visible – in fact, desolate was the design for the entry room.
All that changed with smoke and the appearance of the White Rabbit! Styled to perfection after 2 hours of makeup and prosthetics, he exclaimed “I’m late! I’m late for a very important date!”, and with that he disappeared through a secret opening in the wall (the rabbit hole) that led guests to an enchanted garden. This was the first real hint to what was about to unfold for the guests – a forest filled with lush greenery, a misting fountain and even a caterpillar on a toadstool answering Alice's repeated questioning. evoke worked with the lighting and audio teams at Microhire to create a dream-like environment where lighting was the defining element to the room.
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
The Mad Hatter made his grand entrance cheekily teasing guests, berating the rabbit and causing all manner of mischief. A spectacle of sumptuous, tasty treats then appeared with bubbling drink me, eat me cocktails which left many thinking, “This is pretty good!”
However, when guests thought that was it for the night, suddenly the golden gates were flung open to reveal a dining spectacular that even Heston Blumenthal would have been enthralled by. Classic black and white flooring was the base to a long, bespoke dinner table, decked in carbon black and gold cutlery and the finest glassware. This dinner table was filled with touches of Alice in Wonderland and featured a 150 kg garden that hovered over it and cascaded towards the guests.
The evoke team designed lighting effects for the event that featured mysterious cool blue lighting that transformed into warm white, and the table which was lit like a runway to give even tones to the centrepieces and food. All of this was a background to the amazing custom-designed menu, cheekily developed from their in-house one, but taken to the highest level.
It was a truly creative, gastronomic adventure where guests thought something was one thing but was really another - soups appeared out of tea pots, and so on throughout the many courses.
The finale was the ultimate triumph – choreographed music revealed a sumptuous dessert laden night club and Alice transformed into a sexy blues singer! A dazzling chandelier appeared from the ceiling and bright lighting and styling morphed into brooding and darker colours. A spectacular window to a forest also opened up (which was actually a 20 metre LED screen filled with custom imagery).
Chefs from Delaware North, led by Marcus Werner, created the desserts that covered the table with the world’s finest chocolates and treats. They also created giant eggs that, when smashed, revealed more sweet delicacies.
Finally, vintage champagne was opened en-masse to rounds of applause – an idea from months before had became reality.
Was it just a dream?
Believe us, we filmed it all – check out the video.