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Old Town Temecula Community Theater Installs elektraLite SLA Retinas
USA – Old Town Temecula Community Theater sits in the heart of the historic district of Temecula in Southwestern California. Surrounded by antique shops and quaint cafés, the theatre is housed inside the old Mercantile Building on Main Street, dating from the 1890s. But the theatre is just 12 years old, and its production is led by a concert touring veteran who steers the venue toward new technology. Its newest purchase of 12 elektraLite SLA Retina LED fixtures is testament to that.
Bill Strawn, the venue’s technical director and lighting designer/director, joined the theatre before it opened. He bought a home in Temecula while he was on tour with Riverdance. When the tour was over, he noticed a theatre under construction while exploring Old Town. Checking in with the theatre manager and members of the Temecula Theater Foundation, Strawn said: “I’m off the road, why don’t you hire me?” And they did.
Strawn, whose career started with Sacramento Theatrical Lighting, led to Morpheus Lights, then to Branson, Missouri as Andy Williams’ lighting director, then back to Morpheus, put his concert touring experience to work at the new theatre.
The venue has two performance spaces: the main 354-seat proscenium theatre and a more intimate 48-seat Club at the Merc black box theatrical space. Between the two is an open courtyard, which can be open for events.
The theatre's season features family-oriented community productions. In addition to his supervisory role, Strawn also handles the lighting design and operation for many local productions as well the bands that perform for the theatre's Legends tribute series. “I’m an ex-rock and roller,” he says, “so we can’t afford KISS, but we can get the KISS tribute band, and everyone has a good time with those acts.”
Strawn gets help from his assistants of ten years, Travis Brown and John Deards. “Travis is very familiar with these lights and helped me install the system along with my other crew members. Travis and I are the two operators who deal with the rig the most.”
Up until 2013, Strawn had a full conventional rig. But with the onset of LED fixtures, he saw where technology was headed.
“The city was looking to lower costs. Norm Wright with elektraLite was a good friend of Steve Odehnal at Sacramento Theatrical Lighting, and that is how I got introduced to elektraLite,” Strawn explains. “I presented a proposal to the city to go to a full LED rig.”
Strawn looked at other manufacturers, but the elektraLite line met his specs. “The elektraLite fixtures gave me output, flexibility and coverage I needed at a price point I was looking for, and they are quality light.”
He’s using the dozen new SLA Retinas as truss warmers and set accent lights. With SLA meaning “Show Lighting Accent” fixture, the SLA Retina is designed to hide in corners, coves, set pieces, scenery and portable stage applications.
Strawn says he initially bought the SLA fixtures to add light within the sets. “A lot of productions come in here, being community theatre, they build multiple tiered sets and it’s hard to light under them from the front. Initially, I bought the SLA fixtures to light within the set and give some decent light from within. They are a great little fixture for that and for truss warmers.”
For a recent run of Queen tribute shows by Queen Nation, the SLAs are positioned inside the truss and working out well. “It’s a bright little fixture for the size and exactly what I needed. I may order another half dozen!”
Because the SLA Retinas are rated IP65 for outdoor use, Strawn can move the fixtures to the open courtyard outdoors for a dance series with a local troupe. With the fixture’s small footprint, small size, light weight and flexibility, the SLAs can move around the venue – in planters, holiday displays or wherever needed – no matter the weather.
This latest purchase adds to the venue’s pre-existing inventory of solid-performing elektraLite products installed there in 2013, including LXE 700s profile fixtures, a combination of RGBW Quad and Pancake fixtures, and a legacy special effect fixture known as eyeKandy.
“Half our shows are local community theater productions, and the flexibility that the LEDs give us are insane,” Strawn explains. “It saves on labour, because now I don’t have to change gels or refocus 150 conventionals. With the introduction of the elektraLite fixtures, their labour costs became much more manageable and their show quality increased exponentially. Once the LEDs came into play, it was a few button pushes on the lighting console, the colour changes, and the light moves from A to B without anyone up on a lift. They were amazed at how cool that was.”
Strawn also touches on elektraLite’s customer support. “elektraLite has always backed me, and the gear is quality stuff. Since I had it hung, we do 250 shows a year, and those lights are on all the time. Out of the entire inventory of fixtures, I only had one go bad on me and it got fixed straight away. So they last! What more could a guy want? I’ve had my elektraLites in play for five years and they run a lot. With that kind of consistency with regard to their longevity, I find that to be great.”
photos: Shawna Sarnowski
27th October 2017
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