When Sight & Sound Theatres inaugurated its 2,080-seat Branson, Missouri venue it marked a major milestone in the company’s two decades-long collaboration with PRG. For the new theatre, PRG partnered with Sight & Sound’s design team to build a lighting system that is fully compatible with the company’s 10-year-old Millennium Theatre® 951 miles to the east in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, previously equipped by PRG.
“We started working on the new theatre two and a half years ago and PRG has been with us from the very beginning,” says Joe Basinger, lighting designer for Sight & Sound. “They have been an integral part of our team, from the planning process to supplying and commissioning the equipment.”
Known for biblical-themed productions featuring 40 to 50 performers, live and animatronic animals, massive sets, and awe-inspiring special effects, this time Sight & Sound came to PRG with a unique challenge. “We wanted to rotate our productions between Strasburg and Branson with the same set, direction, and lighting,” explains Basinger. “So for the Branson system, we needed to update our original Millennium Theatre designs with today’s technology, while building in enough flexibility so the new system will serve us for several years.”
Another challenge was the sheer size of the new facility. At 336,000-square-feet, it is the largest building in Branson. “You could fit all of Radio City Music Hall inside our theatre,” says Basinger. The main stage is 110 feet wide by 100 feet deep with a 40-foot-high proscenium flanked by two side stages, each 80 feet long. Above the stage are six lighting trusses with wiring in place for a seventh. “Our audiences really like to feel that they are inside the action, and this theatre puts them right there,” says Basinger.
PRG provided all the theatrical lighting including the house lights for the facility. PRG was the logical choice for the job, says the designer. “There is a level of trust that they will get the job done to our high standards and production values. They have quality people who have worked in the theatre, so they know what it takes and how to do it. They make the project a whole lot easier.”
PRG’s senior project manager Gardiner Cleaves and Southwestern regional sales manager Julie Mauséy worked closely with Basinger and assistant lighting designer Luke Bates to plan and implement the system. “We encouraged them to update from DMX to an Ethernet-based system, because that’s the way the world is heading,” says Cleaves.
PRG also helped ensure compatibility between the Branson and Strasburg systems. “We wanted to be able to troubleshoot the Branson equipment from Strasburg, so we needed an IT addressing range that worked with their system,” recalls Bates. “PRG helped us customize an addressing scheme on site and work through it until it was fully functional.”
In all, PRG provided 47 automated and 1,653 conventional fixtures plus two ETC Eos™ control consoles along with 1,440 dimmers. For the inaugural production, Noah: The Musical, more than 500 conventional fixtures are embedded onstage in the interior of the ark, hidden behind logs and bales of hay. Some 600 dimmers are used to power these sets alone.