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Schenectady Light Opera Company (SLOC), located in downtown Schenectady, New York, is a nonprofit community-based musical theater company, established in 1926. The company stands strong behind its mission to produce professional caliber theatrical performances, and provides opportunities for artistic expression, creative development, and the growth of theatrical talent and experience. SLOC is proud to claim several Broadway actors as gaining their start with the company. While the theater’s core business lies within its performances, SLOC plays an integral part in the Schenectady community, offering tuition-free youth productions and engaging in ongoing partnerships with Schenectady ARC and Wildwood, organizations which support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
More than six years ago, the theater took a big leap and purchased an old church in downtown Schenectady. While the move to a new part of town proved to be beneficial overall, the new and technologically defunct space was a big undertaking for SLOC. After successfully settling into its new location, and converting the building into a theater, the company was challenged by a combination of old lighting fixtures throughout the new theater consisting of CFLs, incandescent, and mercury vapor work lights. This blend of diverse bulbs resulted in inconsistent light quality, high energy usage, and the need to continuously replace lamps that burned out. In addition, some light switches had to be controlled by the breaker panel which proved to be a significant inconvenience when it came to handling basic yet crucial tasks, such as flashing the house lights before the start of a performance.
In search of uniform, high-quality lights using the lowest power possible, SLOC entered the "Let KREIOS® Light Your Stage" Contest launched by OSRAM. The contest, which awarded two theaters with 12 OSRAM KREIOS FLx LED work light fixtures each, was announced at LDI 2015, a leading global tradeshow and conference for entertainment lighting professionals. The OSRAM KREIOS FLx LED light fixture is designed for theaters and other performance venues, delivering a high luminous intensity equal to 500W tungsten fixtures but using only 90 watts. In addition, the fixture generates exceptional illumination of the stage during set construction and rehearsals, and provides superior rendering, ideal for applications that require a high quality of light.
After reviewing all of the entries, SLOC was named one of the two winners. The company was thrilled to leverage its 12 new LED KREIOS lights, improving both the theater’s lighting and electrical control.
“We honestly thought it was too good to be true,” said Michael Bellotti, SLOC actor and fundraising leader who submitted the theater’s entry. “It was truly sensational that our entry resonated so well with the judges. Once reality set in, our creative ideas for installation started churning—as we were determined to create the best environment possible for both our dedicated theater company and supportive community.”
Four of SLOC’s awarded lighting fixtures were installed as work lights on the corners of the stage, as the company had been burning through lamps in the original lights quickly, making all tasks, including set building, extremely difficult. SLOC’s original theatrical lighting system was so complex, volunteers had to be trained on how to turn the system on and off just to be able to paint.
Six fixtures were installed as theater house lights, enabling the company to obtain appropriate lighting coverage for seating in the house. This also meant that the breaker was no longer needed to control the lights, which was one of SLOC’s main concerns. To further customize the lights to their specific needs, SLOC plans to frost the house lights, and possibly gel them for warmth.
The last two fixtures were installed as lighting for the theater’s cabaret room, enabling the company to transform this previously unfinished room into an event space for fundraising activities, as well as a secondary performance space. “We try to use our fundraising events as a way to build a sense of community, to make it warm and welcoming for everyone from actors to staff technicians,” Bellotti said. “This ancillary room will allow us to add to our community feel for shows and events.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
The theater is thrilled to share the new and improved lights with audiences at the onset of its 90th season. The initial impressions from the stage crew and actors have been nothing but positive, all noting the incredible amount of flexibility and user-friendliness, low power consumption, and light quality. SLOC found the versatility key, as it is now able to comfortably use the lights for many different applications throughout the theater.
“I smile whenever I see the new lights,” said Patrick Reilly, SLOC technical director. “While building the set for a recent production, I had to go back and repaint a portion of the set because under the poor work lighting, I thought the color was the same but when I saw it under the stage lights, I realized they were different. These new lights have truly been a major transformation for our theater, not just giving us better illumination and saving us energy, but also making our lives better.”
The new LED lights have helped to successfully complete theater renovations which once seemed far-fetched. “It was in the last year that we made big leaps forward with dreams to improve the space,” said Peter Caracappa, SLOC president. “Being able to upgrade the audience experience with lighting from OSRAM has been a huge part of it. We can’t wait to debut the new lights for audiences in the fall.”
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