Upstage Creative is more than just an event entertainment company. In the words of founder Ilai Szpiezak, a seasoned international performer, they “create experiences”. I caught up with Ilai this winter to find out more about Upstage.
Let’s start with a little bit about you, Ilai. Tell me what motivates you, with regards to Upstage.
I’m incredibly passionate about performance, music and entertainment. I trained as a ballet dancer with principal dancers from Buenos Aires and London as well as doing my MA in Creative Producing at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. So I don’t just do events - I am a theatre and performing arts producer and international choreographer. What I love is bringing happiness into peoples lives and sharing with them special moments - turning them into unique experiences with the help of music, entertainment, production and lots of dancing. All this, combined with the imagination you grow working in theatre, make every event a night to remember.
That’s really unique! But it’s not just Upstage that’s fast making itself a name for the events you produce, you also perform at events yourself, right?
That’s correct - I’m an MC, or Master of Ceremonies, which means I host events in a modern, fresh and relaxed way. My approach is largely inspired by my Latin American and Israeli heritage - I’m a firm believer in being genuine, warm and relating to the people in the event. People talk about “reading a room” and it’s so important to me - you can put lights, musicians, staging and all the rest in an event, but that won’t create the atmosphere. You’ve got to read the room and engage organically with the audience to produce a special evening. I've been called by The Jewish News "The Greatest Showman"
And it clearly works! I remember when I first saw you in action and the room went crazy! So tell me a bit about “Life is not a dress rehearsal”. What does it mean?
Well we only have one life and we should make the most of it. This means sharing those special moments with the people we love the most, family and friends. And our approach is to help in creating the most amazing atmosphere in every event we are involved with. From a dreamland Bat Mitzvah, with over 5000 balloons filling in the entire ceiling of the venue, to interactive dancers and performers, all the way to our high-energy DJ packages, we will go above and beyond to make each event unique and special for our clients. To make sure we work closely with them while adding our own style and sparkle; to make it that ONE day that everyone remembers forever.
People laugh at me as I frequently use the expression "100%" - but this is what makes us different. It is not only what we do, but how we do it, the creation, the production and the performance, putting 100% into every single day. So when there’s an opportunity to celebrate - grab it with both hands and don’t let go.
How insightful – it really puts things in perspective. So if you had to give one piece of advice to a couple planning their big day, what would it be?
Make it truly yours in every single way. This is your very own moment to celebrate life together so make sure you do it and you enjoy not just the actual day but also the process.
What was the most special moment of your career?
One of my most special moments of my career was the creation and production of a full bespoke performance for a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall. Over 5000 people watching our very own creation! It was just a wonderful experience.
Producing events and shows, you’re working all the time to shape the experience of your audience. But tell us a bit more about how the experience is for you.
Every event, event show, every production is different. We adapt the style, the music, the design, the concept - everything in order to achieve each client's vision. So my experience is constantly changing and this is what I most love: Each and every single day holds so much potential and I absolutely love it. One day I will be planning a wedding, the next day we might be designing a room for a Graffiti inspired Bar Mitzvah and the next day I might be flying to Europe to deliver a dance workshop. I love having the ability to work with different cultures, clients and concepts.
Why do you love what you do?
I love making people smile, creating experiences and leaving memories that will mark our lives forever.
Life is not a dress rehearsal, this is my very own life motto.