New stage lights have been installed in the Wright Auditorium in Petersburg. As Angela Denning reports, the $65,000 project was a collaborative effort in the community.
Dave Berg is moving around a darkened stage at the Wright Auditorium. He’s been here all day helping to install the new stage lights. Overseeing the work are a few professionals visiting from a Seattle-based theater group, PNTA-Pacific Northwest Theatre Associates Inc.
Berg walks between rows of large black metal lights that are hanging at waist-height from ceiling cables.
For over 30 years, he’s has been a volunteer with the Mitkof Mummers community acting group. He also runs the stage lights for other community performances like dance recitals.
Berg says the installation will bring the theater up to current standards. Volunteers are replacing about 40 incandescent lights with LEDS. The new lights can change 10 different colors.
“We can change from a totally red stage to a totally blue stage to a totally magenta; totally yellow,” Berg said. “Or, spot it and have magenta in the back and white light up front. And so, it’s going to be very user friendly as far as the operators are concerned and very appealing to the eye.”
Berg says the quality of lighting will also be different and the audience will be able to tell the difference.
“The lighting is very bright. LEDs are significantly brighter for the amount of power that they use compared to the old incandescent lights,” he said. “Since they’re color changing we no longer have to put gels in the lights to have different colors.”
Gels are squares of colored cellophane that volunteers had to place in front of the old lights to change the colors.
Mark Roberts knows all about that. He’s another volunteer with the Mitkof Mummers. He joins Berg on stage to help with the installation. He says he’s also excited about the new lights.
“There’s 10 different colors in each light so you don’t have to change the colors anymore, we just do it from the panel,” Roberts said. “I think that’s going to be one of the coolest things . . .even though there are a lot of cool things about the lights.”
The new LEDs will be cheaper to operate. They’ll also run a lot cooler and won’t make the auditorium as hot. The new lights are fixed meaning they don’t move but Berg says they can always add movable ones in the future as another upgrade.
The auditorium is named after the late Syd and Vara Wright who received grant funding to build the current theater in the 1980s. Berg says the facility was exceptional back then and still is.
“We’re very honored to continue with this maintenance and upgrade of this world class theater that we have here in a small high school in Southeast Alaska,” Berg said.
The $65,000 project was paid for by the Rasmusson Foundation and several local organizations including the Petersburg School District, Northern Nights Theater, Petersburg Community Foundation, the Mitkof Mummers, the Mitkof Dance Troupe, Alaska Marine Lines, Rexall Drugstore and other local donors.
The next large-scale performance at the theater will be the Mitkof Dance Troupe’s spring recital when over 150 children will be performing.