Audience members at Gulfport’s Catherine A. Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S., will experience a new, state-of-the-art, remote-controlled and cool LED lighting system that allows for infinite creativity in a rainbow of colors, said Cultural Events Supervisor Justin Shea, pictured. A limited number of color choices for the older and hot halogen lights, which are still a part of the mix, have to be applied by hand in the form of plastic sheets. The majority of the theater’s stage lights – new and old – are mounted directly above the seats in the audience in what is called a catwalk path, a section of which is shown at the top of the photo. For safety reasons, the positions or colors of the older lights in the catwalk cannot be changed during a performance when people are sitting underneath. But, all of the new LED lights can be adjusted throughout a performance because they operate via remote with built-in color choices. Pictured in the center on the floor of the stage are four circles of colored light that are coming from overhead zoom-style LED fixtures. Each zoom unit can be positioned to cast a light ranging from a narrow to a wide circle using a special controller board in the elevated control booth at the back of the theater. The new system also includes a wireless sound board the size of a small tablet that can be operated from anywhere in the theater to adjust the audience speakers or the sound monitors used by the cast and crew backstage. The total cost of the entire audio and energy-efficient lighting upgrade with custom wiring was $25,000, which reflects a special 30 percent multi-agency discount from the supplier, said Shea. The new lights have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, he said. In future budget years, additional speakers and lights, along with a new background for the stage, are planned.
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