BRAINERD, MN – Located in the geographical heart of Minnesota, Central Lakes College embodies the state’s long-standing tradition of supporting community involvement in the arts. This spirit is very evident in the college’s two theatres, which not only showcase the work of its own drama department, but also host community theatrical productions as well as recitals, rock concerts and a wide range of other performances. To support this diversified schedule, the theatre’s lighting designer Ben Kent recently upgraded its rig by adding flexible CHAUVET Professional LED fixtures, supplied by Monkey Wrench Productions.
“Our theatre production program began 48 years ago, and it’s always embraced a variety of shows,” said Theatre Director Patrick Spradlin. “The college produces five or six theatrical productions a year, which are performed in either our proscenium space (The Chalberg Theatre) or our black box space (The Dryden). Our productions range from small one-person shows to full-scale musicals, or anything in between. Then we have a wide range of community theatre events and concerts that take place here, so we wanted Ben to look for fixtures that could give us the most flexibility possible.”
This search led Kent to Monkey Wrench Productions. “I went over a lot of different options with Monkey Wrench,” he said. “They were particularly enthusiastic about the Chauvet fixtures, so I did some research. I was impressed by the amount of thought that had obviously gone into the design of these reasonably priced fixtures.”
Kent purchased 12 Ovation E-910FC RGBA-Lime color mixing ellipsoidals and 18 COLORado 2 Solo RGBW wash fixtures for Central Lakes. The fixtures are used primarily in the main Chalberg Theatre, but some are moved to the Dryden Theatre black box when needed.
“We currently have the 12 Ovations mounted on our FOH Catwalk providing front light for the main stage,” said Kent. “This allows us a lot of flexibility for creating multiple acting areas on stage. The Ovations replaced some very old ellipsoidals that we had in our theatre, and the difference is night and day. The color engine is superior to other fixtures in the same price range. It’s capable of producing brilliant whites, warmer subtle tones and vibrant saturated colors. The versatility of color changing means that we don’t have to hang and focus as many different fixtures as we did when we used conventionals.”
The 18 COLORado 2 Solo washes are mounted on the three electrics over the stage. Typically, six of the fixtures are positioned on each bar, but this is readily changed for different productions.
Kent has been impressed by the COLORado’s color rendering capabilities. “I really like this fixture’s homogenized beam,” he said. “The even wash I’m able to get is far superior to anything I could create using our older Fresnels.”
Central Lakes College first used its Ovation and COLORado fixtures for a school production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. “These were ideal fixtures for this show, since the light has to change in real time as the drama progresses,” said Kent. “Thanks to the color rendering capabilities of these lights, we were able to create the subtle changes in color temperature required without rigging multiple lights in different colors.”
The ability to change colors quickly and easily is something that is of paramount importance to Kent, as well as Spradlin and Technical Manager George Marsolek. “I think all of us are proud of how the theatre serves the college and community in variety of ways,” he said. “For this reason, versatility is really what’s important to us. We appreciate how these lights make it easy for us to switch between very different types of productions without having to recolor.”