• White Paper Report

    • By Pat Locke

      Floating Stage Productions wishes to Welcome Lake Compounce to the floating stage family.  Lake Compounce is the oldest continuously operating amusement park located in Bristol, Connecticut having opened in 1846.  The park spans 322 acres which includes a beach area.
      Music has always been a major part of Lake Compounce’s history and so it continues today with the announcement of a new floating stage for their 2023 concert schedule.  Lake Compounce is the only entity in the State of Connecticut to provide this unique venue.  The parks leadership continues to provide the region with quality, affordable family fun and entertainment in its rich tradition of excellence.
      The first permanent building on the property was The Casino built in 1895 with an upstairs ballroom.  In the 1930s, an enormous dance floor without walls was added so visitors could dance “under the stars”.  A high-arched ceiling and windowed walls were added in 1937. Many big bands of the day played at Lake Compounce from Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey to Cab Calloway, Count Basie to Stan Kenton, Harry James to Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.  In 1938, the Artie Shaw Orchestra performed with jazz/swing music female vocalist, Billie Holliday.  The all-time attendance record of 5,000 dancers was set in the Spring of 1941 when the Dorsey orchestra featured a young, up-and-coming male vocalist named Frank Sinatra.
      We salute Lake Compounce on their continued effort of “Bringing the Arts to the People” and including Floating Stage Productions in their expansion plans.
      For more information go to the Lake Compounce website.

      by Pat Locke

      The floating stage was located in Bemus Point NY along the shores of Bemus Bay on beautiful Chautauqua Lake.
      “If you build it, they will come”. 
      And come, they did .. to experience what was known as the Bemus Bay Pops for 20 years!
      In 1998, the Pops was created by Dan and Sue Dalpra, former owners/operators of the Italian Fisherman restaurant. They experienced great success attracting people to the lawns, decks and waters of Bemus Bay. The series of concerts featured nationally known tribute bands on the Bemus Bay Pops floating stage.  Each weekend throughout the summer season audiences enjoyed a selection of music spotlighting the eras of disco, rock n’ roll, swing, jazz, rock, country, island and Motown.
      Over Labor Day weekend the Bemus Bay Pops Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Bruce Morton Wright and John Marcellus presented a diverse program each season ranging from Gershwin and Sousa to the Beatles including motion picture musical themes. The Labor Day concerts through the years always featured vocalists who paid tribute to legends such as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Barbra Streisand.
      The Bemus Bay Pops was often referred to by Dan and Sue Dalpra as Camelot. The Pops truly encompassed the word and its meaning ..
      In short, there’s simply not
      A more congenial spot
      For happily-ever-aftering
      Than here in Camelot
      by Pat Locke
      Public transportation at Lake Compounce began in 1895 which brought thousands of park visitors to the park by trolley.  In about that same year, Timothy Murphy began to assemble the historic carousel.  He combined the works of 54 master carvers. Lake Compounce purchased it for $10,000 and opened it to the public on Memorial Day in 1911. The carousel was designed by German carver, Charles Looff and built in 1890. This rare surviving and operational Looff carousel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
      Special interest to boating history buffs is the fact that Lake Compounce purchased the first of three Chris Craft speedboats in May of 1929 for $2,800.  At a cost of 15 cents for a thrilling ride around the lake, the boats paid for themselves by July.  In 1943, Lake Compounce purchased a miniature steam railroad designed and built by British actor, William Gillette, portrayer of Sherlock Holmes. The following year more than 100,000 passengers rode on more than 35 tons of 17 gauge steel track. The train ride completely encircled the lake.

      by Pat Locke

      The following article was found on the internet and originally written by Emily Robinson.  Today Emily can be found photographing DC architecture and obsessing over any and all music!  I have taken parts of her 11/01/2017 article to emphasize the comparisons between the DC floating stage that appeared in 1935 to the floating stage that appeared in Bemus Point NY on Chautauqua Lake/Chautauqua County 63 years later.  The floating stage concept has been around for a very long time and to realize we had our very own floating stage in Bemus Point is truly amazing brought to us by Dan Dalpra and the Dalpra family.


      The evening of July 14, 1935 was a clear, perfect summer night on the Potomac River.  The colors of the sunset gleamed off the water as the sun set over the Virginia Hills.  A cool breeze wafted over the shoreline.  On the river bank, just behind the Lincoln Memorial and parallel to the Arlington Memorial Bridge 10,000 Washingtonians dressed in flannel and gingham sat on blankets and newspapers.  On the water, hundreds of others floated in canoes eager to experience Washington’s newest summertime tradition – floating concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra.

      The NSO was taking to the water inaugurating a new “Sunset Symphony” series where the orchestra would offer performances on a 75 foot concert barge.  Hans Kindler, founder and first music director of the NSO stepped up to the podium and looked out upon the unbelieveable sea of people.


      The successful Sunset Symphony series debut did not come about without some challenges.  When the NSO was founded in 1931 money wasn’t available to finance summer symphony activities and there wasn’t an outdoor location large enough to support the symphony.  By 1935, the NSO Association had built a strong following and the orchestra directors pushed the idea of a summer series.  After touring a series of National Capital Parks, the directors decided that with some out-of-the-box thinking the location along the Potomac River could be a marvelous location for the summer concerts.  With the audience seating issue solved, directors needed a space for the orchestra, itself.  Space was tight and so they looked offshore. To ensure the orchestra’s sound carried all the way from the barge in the water to the land, the symphony association had a system of sound amplifiers installed on the stage which would disperse the music without distortion.  After some tests proved the amplifying apparatus to be entirely satisfactory, the orchestra could be hear flawlessly from the water.  For the National Symphony as an entity, the Sunset Symphony series signaled a step forward on the orchestra’s path as a rising major orchestra.  More established American orchestras had already started offering informal summer concert seasons.

      For the individual NSO musicians the floating stage concerts meant something even more basic – year round work which was no small achievement considering the hardships of the Great Depression.  The crowds coming out to see Sunset Symphony concerts only increased with each new season and the audience, on occasion, even included President Franklin Delano Roosevelt listening from the Presidential car in 1939. The National Symphony played concerts on the floating barge for six weeks every summer from 1935 until 1965 attracting thousands of concert-goers for those 30 memorable years!

      Even though the floating barge in DC is a distant memory today due to the existence of the Washington National Airport in 1965 which created a consistent overhead rumble for an outdoor concert venue it’s still fun to think about an earlier generation saying “grab your canoe and let’s go to the symphony!”

      Canoe and kayak owners did exactly that at the Bemus Bay Pops from 1998-2017. They came and floated near the floating stage to hear concerts on weekends and over Labor Day weekend for those 20 memorable years! On that official final weekend of summer the beloved Bemus Bay Pops Symphony Orchestra took to the floating stage in Bemus Point to officially end another fun-filled Pops summer concert season.  

      For those of us who experienced the Bemus Bay Pops it truly represents musical memories that will last a lifetime. The familiar term, “Whatever Floats Your .. Boat” applied to everyone who experienced the Pops on Bemus Bay from their boats, canoes and kayaks. It was a magical time.  It was a memorable time .. in 1935 and in 1998. 


      By Pat Locke

      The Seebühne, a massive floating stage on Lake Constance, is the centerpiece of the annual Bregenz Festival in Austria held in July and August. The stage hosts elaborate opera productions that are famous for extraordinary set design with an audience capacity that seats 11,735.

      The festival became an international event in its first year in 1946, one year after World War II.  People from Germany, Switzerland and France came to the festival.  Two stages were created out of floating stages on the lake that borders Germany, Switzerland and France. One barge is for the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the other barge is used for carrying stage structures. The first festival took place with an evening of Mozart on a lavishly decorated barge which was a comparatively modest stage by today’s standards.  The community of Bregenz was lacking a theatre at that time so its greatest asset, Lake Constance, was chosen as a stage.  Initially, only a temporary solution, the choice of venue turned out to be decisive for its success. The Bregenz Festival Community was founded in 1950 and became a permanent body of organizers who continue to develop the festival today. 

      The imagination of the festival set designers has no limits. They are arguably the secret stars in this annual operatic performance and seem to outdo themselves with every new set, each more surreal than the last, taking on average 215 days to construct every two years on wooden stakes positioned around a concrete core.  The concrete core anchored to the lakeshore houses the necessary infrastructure for the festival which includes dressing rooms, the orchestra pit and the machine rooms where the technical wizardry is conducted much like the orchestra itself.  To go beyond the spectacular, the sets require cutting-edge technology.  The basic structure is supported by immense pillars anchored at the bottom of the lake and the decorations built upon the stage can reach up to 100 feet in height.


      British artist, Es Devlin’s sculpture for the operatic production from Carmen in 2017 is a pair of hands rising 80 feet out of the water. The hands are throwing a pack of cards in the air and within this freeze frame of a gesture the performance takes place. The opera is performed on and among the scattered and floating cards. Every surface evolves throughout the performance with projected video.

      One particular photo featured in this Spotlight story might make you think to yourself: From where do I recognize this giant eye? You may have seen it during one of 007’s adventures due to the fact that James Bond visited the Bregenz Festival in the film Quantum of Solace.


      by Pat Locke

      “I have always said that laughter is the best medicine and children are the greatest healers.  In their innocence and purity, they possess an extraordinary ability to bring joy and laughter to our lives.  When I make a child laugh, it’s like music to my ears.  Their laughter is genuine, unfiltered and contagious.  They remind us to find joy in the simplest things and to never take life too seriously.  Children are the heart and soul of comedy and they teach us that sometimes the silliest things can bring the greatest happiness.”

      Red Skelton

      In the summer of 2012 a memorable and fun production came to the beloved Bemus Bay Pops floating stage that brought smiles and laughter to local children of all ages.

      The Adventures of Eshe, the Ethiopian Elephant is a children’s interactive play and musical written, directed, choreographed and scored by Nancy Hahn.  The production was sponsored by Dan Dalpra and the Bemus Bay Pops in Bemus Point NY.  It was the quintessential collaboration of entertainment for children with community participation involving local businesses, libraries, radio stations and cable television. Outstanding local talent were seamlessly brought together in a shared mission for children resulting in a phenomenal production on the mesmerizingly beautiful floating stage.

      Children, parents and grandparents arrived from across the region and were an appreciative audience in all of the sold-out shows.  Every child who attended left with the book entitled The Adventures of Eshe, the Ethiopian Elephant, a colorful t-shirt, a floor mat and a colorful hand-held fan. Although Eshe, the Ethiopian Elephant has since had many amazing adventures entertaining and inspiring children, globally, the Bemus Bay Pops and its floating stage will always be an irreplaceable and indelible memory.  

      “Every character I create, every book I write, every song I compose and every dance I choreograph is filled with boundless love and joy for children.” 

      Nancy Belle Hahn

      Nancy Hahn is an entrepreneur, author, multimedia company content creator and songwriter. She is the founder/owner of many iHeart radio stations among them being iRead2Know and was the first woman in the United States to earn the distinction of building a broadcast television station. For 25 years her stations were dedicated to variety entertainment with an emphasis on quality children and family programming.  Hahn was an International Broadband Media and Spectrum consultant for Nextwave International.

      Hahn began her early career as an elementary school teacher, board of education curriculum writer, professional dancer, college dance teacher and dance company choreographer.  She then began writing and producing for children’s television shows.  Hahn has created 75 children’s books, 150 original children’s characters and has written 12 children’s musicials.  She uses her professional BMI radio songwriting skills in pops, classical, rock, Broadway, opera and reggae music genres to compose a musical score/soundtrack for each character and song in all of her children’s books. Hahn has worked with retail outlets for over 10 years creating 100 products in apparel, toys and books. She has coined her contents and products as entertainment with a multi-cultural focus.

      The animal characters created by Hahn are critically endangered species engaging children in environmental awareness and conservation education.  In June of 2022, Abundance International published Hahn’s book, Comfort For Kids dedicated to supporting Ukranian orphans. 

      A floating stage can also provide children programming with clowns, jugglers, puppeteers, magicians and even pantomine acts which is the art of expressing through gestures often accompanied by music.  A comedy entertainer in the 1950s was a clown named Clarabell from the Howdy Doody Show.  Clarabell represented the face of comedy without ever speaking.  He wore a baggy, striped costume and communicated through mime by honking a horn for “yes” or “no”. 

      “Kids have an amazing ability to find humor in the simplest things.  They remind us that laughter is the universal language.” 

      Jim Gaffigan

      “Entertaining kids is like being a magician.  You have to create an illusion of laughter and wonder that captivates their imaginations.”  

      Robin Williams

      A floating stage can add an extra element of surprise and excitement to a comedian’s antics. It can be incorporated into improvised scenes which add a unique twist to the humor. It can serve as the central platform where each act takes place providing a visually captivating experience and it can be transformed into different settings to enhance the comedic storytelling.

      “Kids are like little comedy sponges.  They absorb humor and squeeze out laughter.  It’s our job as comedians to keep them soaked in amusement.”  

      Steve Martin

      “Kids are the toughest audience.  If you can make a child laugh, you’ve mastered the art of comedy.”  

      Ellen DeGeneres

      A floating stage can provide an interesting backdrop and create a sense of wonder and intrigue bringing about an experience completely different than most children have ever experienced .. sitting on a stage that floats.

      Floating Stage Productions is the original developer of a variety of programs produced on its floating stage with 20+ years of experience.  We can help make sharing the arts with kids to help entertain, educate and inspire in a unique fun setting that floats on water. 

      Contact us today.


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