New lights shine on local stage

Upgrades at Studio Stage Door theatre illuminate a new era for Cranbrook Community Theatre

Only three things are necessary to mount a play in this our modern era. A flat stage, talented actors, and a lighting system.

Actors, of course, create action out of ideas, and bring an audience around or in front of the stage along with them. But lights and their effects add the wonder, sustain the illusion, and create the environment in which the characters come to life.

The hub of Cranbrook’s vibrant dramatic scene, the Studio Stage Door theatre downtown, has recently installed a new state-of-the-art lighting system which will bring subsequent productions and performances held there into a new era of theatrical magic.

Trevor Lundy, Cranbrook Community Theatre’s Production Manager, told the Townsman that the acquisition of the new system was finally out of urgency.

As CCT was preparing to mount the play ‘Tin Woman’ in October, and began to set up the lighting, it was discovered the theatre’s packs were failing, and proved to be unfixable.

“Dimmer packs let the lights talk to the board, and vice versa,” Lundy explained. “Out of 16 channels, five didn’t work. We ended up lighting ‘Tin Woman’ and ‘Amigo’s Blue Guitar’ (CCT’s February play) with only 11 channels.

“Our lighting people should be commended for that,” Lundy added.

At a subsequent meeting of the CCT board of directors, Lundy broached the subject and explained its urgency.

“We either replace the the dimmer packs or we’re not a theatre,” he said. “The board agreed.”

CCT has a capital improvement fund in reserve for that rainy day — “It was raining,” Lundy said.

Thus arrived this spring two new, state-of-the-art dimmer packs, each with 12 channels instead of eight, 20 brand new LED lights to go with the new system, and a new board to run it all.

Rather than wait for the end of the current theatre system, CCT got the new system up-and-running in time for the last play of the season — “The Diary of Anne Frank.” A real job of work, but done just in time.

“The new lights give us so many more options,” Lundy said. “Because they’re LED, each light is like a little computer on its own.

CCT’s last two shows were lit using 30 lights. “The Diary of Anne Frank,” opening this Friday, April 26, will use only 18 lights, doing far more than the previous 30, Lundy said. And new universe of effects, colours, fades, shades, timbres and moods is now available.

“And the potential for growth is really good,” he added. “Moving lights which can follow actors, chases, a smoke machine can be hooked up …”

The new system also reduces electricity output by 85 per cent, which will reduce the temperature in the theatre, resulting in greater comfort for performers and audience.

The new lights and their installation are another chapter in a significant year for the Studio Stage Door heritage theatre and its stewards, Cranbrook Community Theatre. Earlier this year, CCT was recipient of two grants, totalling $90,158, from the Columbia Basin Trust fund (under the Arts, Cultures and Venues grant) and from Heritage BC (under the BUILT grant).The grant from CBT is to renovate the upper theatre lobby. The work will include the compete tear down of the lobby and its replacement, including new windows, period paint and wallpaper and lights. It will also give a facelift to the concession area and ticket booth.

The grant from Heritage BC will help re-insulate the attic and add ventilation to the upper floors.

Both grants will help the CCT make the City-owned heritage building more energy efficient and give a greener energy footprint for the future.

The next step is to update the theatre’s sound system, Lundy said.Watch these pages for more on “Diary of Anne Frank,” opening Friday.

Pictured above: Cranbrook Community Theatre Production Manager Trevor Lundy at the board of the Studio Stage Door’s new lighting system. Barry Coulter photo

Pictured below: During rehearsals for Cranbrook Community Theatre’s upcoming production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Anne’s Jewish family and family friends toast the news of the Allied invasion in Normandy and the prospect of the liberation of Holland. “The Diary of Anne Frank” will be CCT’s first show to be illuminated with a state-of-the-art new lighting system. Martin Ross photo

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