After watching the first of two sold-out shows of Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour in Toronto, I can tell you the names of the singer/songwriter's famous friends (Lena Dunham and Selena Gomez, who appear on giant screens) and even the names of her cats (Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson, named after characters on Grey's Anatomy and Law and Order: SVU, respectively).
What I can't do is tell you the names of any of the directors, choreographers, designers or musicians who may have helped Swift create this epic concert experience that's grossed over $150-million (U.S.) since its launch.
And I, for one, a theatre critic playing the role of a music critic for a night, would really love to know who's behind the Broadway-influenced stagecraft that is on display.
First, the news from Toronto: Swift has generated headlines by bringing out big guest stars at each stop along the way on her 1989 tour – from Lorde to The Weeknd to, just last week in Nashville, Mick Jagger.
Speculation was rife as to who Swift would bring out for this Canadian stop – perhaps hometown hero The Weeknd again or the 6ix's other current superstar, Drake?
But Swift's surprise visitor on Friday was a nod to her roots: Keith Urban, the chart-topping country singer who a young Swift had supported on one of his tours just six years ago.
While the disappointment was palpable among attendees who only began to follow Swift when she went pop, longer-term fans from the songwriting prodigy's country days seemed elated as she and Mr. Nicole Kidman duetted on his new single, John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16, and an old hit, Somebody Like You.
Urban came about three quarters of the way into the show.
Swift kicked things off earlier with Welcome to New York. She was welcoming the first of crowd of 40,000 fans at the Rogers Centre a theatrical conjuring of the middle of Manhattan, specifically – as indicated by two lit-up signs that hovered over the stage, one saying "42nd St", the other reading "Broadway".
And, indeed, there was plenty of Broadway, in the sense of musical theatre, in the choreography of the first half of Swift's concert. Her back-up dancers initially appeared with their faces behind newspapers, as if they were about to break into Fugue for Tinhorns, the opening number form 1950's Guys and Dolls.
And soon enough, these dozen males dancers were in bowlers, seen as silhouettes behind screens for Blank Space as if in a number choreographed by Bob Fosse. (Blank Space had some added lyrics for Toronto – a looped chant of "Blue Jays!" in honour of the playoff-bound regular residents of the Rogers Centre.)
Would you believe this was then followed by a dance in a downpour involving a lamppost? The 1989 World Tour's take on lower-case singing in the rain, however, was more Cirque du Soleil than Gene Kelly – as a lamppost was cinched up into the sky with a backup dancer suspended from it at a 90 degree angel during How You Get the Girl.
Apparently, over a million beads and sequins went into the 164 costumes that tour with Swift, her five-piece band (led by pianist David Cook), her four back-up vocalists and twelve back-up dancers . (The 25-year-old singer/songwriter makes nine costume changes during the show, but it feels like more.)
But the ol' razzle-dazzle slowed down about a third of the way into the concert as Swift segued into inspirational speeches (about how to get over break-ups, primarily) and more confessional performances, punctuated by many pauses to look into the eyes of individual fans in the crowd.
The 25-year-old singer sat behind a piano for Wildest Dreams from 1989, and pulled out the guitar for an acoustic version of You Belong to Me from 2008's Fearless.
But it was back to Broadway by the end as Swift donned a green dress and her back-up dancers suits with short pants formed a chorus line along a giant catwalk that then lifted into the air and rotated – as if it were a propeller and the entire Rogers Centre was about to take off.
I'd be really curious to know who was behind that brilliantly designed stage element – but it is devilishly difficult to find this information. A publicist pointed me to a series of behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube about the band, back-up dancers, costumes and stage design, but Swift is the only person named by name in them.
Even this innovative propeller – a 40,000-pound ramp that rises and turns over the parterre – is described as a "one of a kind catwalk that was designed by Taylor and her team." When did the singer find time to get an engineering degree, I wonder?
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the 1989 World Tour is the way the audience becomes a part of the lighting design. Everyone who arrived at the concert found an LED wristband at their seat – one outfitted with an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip that made it change colour along with the music.
Created by a Montreal company called PixMob, this technology was first employed by Cirque du Soleil, and then Arcade Fire, but no one has used it on this scale before.
Concertgoers used to hold up cigarette lighters and sway them to the music, then cell-phones screens – but it was always up to them when to light them. Here, Swift and her team have taken away that agency from audience members and incorporated them into a larger design, turning them into automated patterns of colour.
That's not how Swift described the effect from the stage in Toronto, of course.. "Every one of you is lit up – which means I can see every single one of you in the stadium," she said. "It's amazing to be able to see you individually, rather than a shadowy, dark crowd."
For the 1989 World Tour is ultimately designed to be about two people and two people only: Taylor Swift and you.