A celebration of families and fun for one of Dubai's biggest festival events.
Dubai Summer Surprises is an annual family entertainment festival held over a 8-10 week period through the Dubai summer months. It consists of international shows and entertainment events throughout the city and a purpose built themed central ticketed attraction. In 2001, John Rowe created and directed an Opening Ceremony show featuring highlights of the coming festival’s offerings, packaged in a one-hour spectacular televised throughout the Arab region. It involved a cast of 50 international actors, singers, dancers, suit character performers and specialty acts, as well as local traditional dancers and live camels, all wrapped up in a non-stop musical spectacle.
Millennium Entertainment International won the contract to create and deliver a whole program of entertainment events around a weekly “summer surprise” subject. The DSS had developed artwork for a myriad of cartoon characters to accompany each weeks’ surprise – everything from animated sea creatures for Ocean Surprises, to talking fruit & veg for Food Surprises – and had produced an animated TVC featuring them all. Central to the festival is their main mascot, the vibrant and bouncy Modhesh character, who has now become famous in the region. Countless mascot costumes were commissioned and produced by MEI, and John was brought on board to create a series of original stage shows for each weekly surprise theme, with Modhesh as the lead character.
To mark the start of the festival, MEI also produced a large-scale Opening Ceremony show featuring all of the crazy characters, along with a cast of international actors, singer and dancers and specialty acts. Created and directed by John Rowe, the one-hour show was based on the TV ad campaign for the festival, where a fictional Modhesh jumps off the pages of a story book to deliver real life adventures to children. The show was performed on a large purpose-built stage with a giant storybook backdrop complete with built in video screens, featuring a series of still and animated artwork and backdrops, also created by John. A mix of original songs and clever covers made up the 60-minute non-stop soundtrack of produced music.
The Opening Ceremony was televised live on Dubai TV and throughout the Arab region.
“This show was a monumental achievement created and produced in record time and in often unfamiliar territory,” explained John. “It involved careful cooperation between teams of people from different cultural backgrounds working together to make it happen. But in the end, seeing the smiling faces of parents, and the excited open eyes of the children… it was a lesson that the language of music and the power of entertainment is universal.”
A few musical selections from the show.
Show creator & director - John Rowe Original songs - John Rowe Music production - Stefan Nowak & John Rowe Choreography - William A. Forsythe Producer - Nicholas Larkin / MEI
"Entertaining across cultures... it's like putting a smile on the face of the world." John Rowe