TEA News

11 January 2018

The TEA Advantage: Kelly Easterling of Quantum Creative Studios

Kelly Easterling has been part of our industry for many years but only became active within the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) around the year 2011. His exposure to TEA led to forming his present company, Quantum Creative Studios, with partner Jayson Raitt.

Kelly Easterling

Story by Alyssa Hostetler, Hotopp Associates

Kelly Easterling's rich and varied career is a prime example of a person in the entertainment and design business in continuous pursuit of his passion. His huge appetite for creativity is reflected in the many places he has worked, the different types of positions he has held and the range of projects. 

Early in his career, Kelly was involved with animal attractions. He worked in the show production department at Marine World Africa USA in the mid 1990s, and eventually moved to Las Vegas to work at The Mirage with the animal care department and on a unique themed environment: Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. From here, Kelly decided to head back to his home state of Arizona for a few years to focus mainly on theatrical lighting design and production, designing numerous theatrical shows and events.

Heading east to New England, Kelly took a higher-level management role with the Merrill Auditorium in the City of Portland, Maine (2002-2006), and a host of touring Broadway shows, symphonies, and rock n’ roll concerts traveled through under his management and direction. This was followed by several years on the executive staff of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. As the Director of Production for the Shakespeare Theatre for five years, Kelly facilitated the complete design and production of more than 100 professional productions and touring shows.

Transitioning out of theatre, Kelly became Northeast Regional Manager of 4Wall Entertainment in 2011 and it was here that he dove into TEA. 4Wall Entertainment is a large entertainment lighting and production firm providing production design and integration services for venues, theme parks, television, and live shows, serving a wide range of entertainment and corporate markets.

Kelly attended a TEA networking event to meet people and pursue potential projects in the industry, and found himself coming full circle. The contact with the themed entertainment community, brought back his days at Marine World and his love of creating unique environments for guests to plunge into and escape the day-to-day world, and the culture of storytelling. “To know the secrets behind the story was what I think really drove me and what I really, really enjoyed. One of my favorite things to do was to walk around the park and just listen to people talk about the shows, or about the attractions, or about their experience. I just really enjoyed watching people have an experience that they couldn’t necessarily have anywhere else.” Kelly fully immersed himself in the TEA, where he met TEA International Board member Traci Klainer of Luce Group. They bonded over lighting design and themed entertainment. Traci encouraged Kelly to become more involved, and he provided design services to some Luce Group projects.

The immersion in TEA was a primary inspiration in Kelly and his partner Jayson Raitt taking steps to form Quantum Creative Studios. Kelly explained that they wanted to be more involved with creating, designing, and producing on a broader scale. To hear Kelly tell the story, he would say they created Quantum, in part, because of the relationship they had built with the TEA. The opportunities that have been presented to them helped shape and define where Quantum fit into the massive TEA puzzle. Being part of TEA has given the Quantum team the chance to become more self-aware of what their organization can bring to the table, how to collaborate and design within the larger picture - connecting all the resources and working together as a whole. Kelly believes that the fusion of the people’s ideas and creativity with one another is what makes this industry successful.

Today, with a team of full time designers, producers, and project managers, Quantum Creative Studios has grown to become a producer and designer of creative content, experiences, and entertainment for theme parks, cruise lines, and even theaters around the globe. Kelly attributes the company’s continued growth and collaborative opportunities to their involvement with TEA. Kelly said, “We would not be able to innovate and create and produce truly unique and truly interesting work without that collaborative effort.”

Posted by Judy Rubin

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