3Qs: Todd Hunt, BancorpSouth Arena executive director

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

Country superstars Rascal Flatts just performed another successful concert at the BancorpSouth Arena on Saturday night. The band and its crew, as well as many other artists, have used the building rehearsal space for tours for years now. Hosting a rehearsal puts the arena in a more likely position to score a big concert by those artists. Daily Journal entertainment reporter Sheena Barnett asked Todd Hunt, the arena’s executive director, how this works.

Q. Explain the rehearsal, process. What goes on? Who’s in the building?
A. Concerts have evolved into major theatrical productions with literally many moving parts (lights, video, set pieces, etc.). It takes time for an artist’s concept for the show to come together into a cohesive two hours of entertainment. Computer simulations can help with the plan but until it’s put together in an arena it’s hard to truly gauge the full effect. The rehearsal time is spent putting all of the pieces together from blueprints to the final product. The artist’s road crew and associated vendors (sound, light and video companies, set designers and pyrotechnics engineers) are on site. As for the musicians, each artist is different – some are here from start to finish, others attend part of the rehearsal, while others never set foot in the venue. Typically if we don’t see the artist it’s because the final rehearsals are taking place in another venue.
Q. Who are some of the artists who have rehearsed in the BancorpSouth Arena?
A. Going back to 1993, we have hosted Alan Jackson, Michael W. Smith, Reba McEntire (three times), Amy Grant, Rascal Flatts (five times), Sugarland, Poison (two times), and Jason Aldean.

Q. How does the rehearsal process help the Arena score big concerts like Rascal Flatts?
A. It allows the touring crews to become comfortable with our staff and the community. It also gives us the ability to lobby with the artists’ representatives in person for five to 10 days while they are in “our house.” Hosting a rehearsal is infinitely more valuable in landing a concert than any phone call or office visit to Nashville, New York or Los Angeles.

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