Installed by White Light, the new system is based entirely on LED technology (photo: James Mackenzie)
UK - When it opened its doors to the public in 1889, the Savoy Theatre was the first in the world to be lit by electric lights. Today, the Savoy continues that trendsetting legacy with a new energy-efficient house lighting system for the iconic performance space.

Recently installed by entertainment lighting specialists White Light, the new system - the first of its kind in London's West End - is based entirely on LED technology, which draws less power and produces less heat than the previous lighting system, creating huge energy savings for the space. The installation is also the first in the world to utilise the new ArcLamp fixture from GDS. Developed specifically for the Savoy Theatre project, it is designed to fit pre-existing fittings on installations where clients wish to keep existing lamp housings due to economic or design imperatives.

White Light completed the installation in just under three weeks - time set aside between productions specifically for the project. The installation continues a long held relationship between White Light and the Ambassador Theatre Group, which owns and operates the Savoy Theatre, with White Light having also completed the Savoy Theatre's recent lighting dimmer upgrades. White Light projects director Simon Needle oversaw the installation, working closely with ATG technical director John Young and theatre manager Glen Cottenden to identify key requirements and ideal outcomes of the project.

"We started talking with [theatre owners] Ambassador Theatre Group about upgrading to LED technology a few years ago," he said, "but there were several factors that needed to be right in order to go ahead with the project - not least of which was the right product."

The project required a system that delivered on brightness, energy savings, ease of use, and - crucially - a smooth dimming curve. "It is important to critically consider how the lighting is going to be used and who will experience it," Needle explains. "In a theatre or performance space such as the Savoy, house lighting is a part of the entire theatrical experience. It was essential for the new system to replicate the look and feel of tungsten," he said.

White Light worked with manufacturers GDS to develop the final system for the project. The plan involved the creation of a brand-new product from GDS: the ArcLamp. These new 4W LED candle lamps replace 40-60W tungsten candle lamps in the Savoy Theatre with both clear and frosted types in use.

Areas originally lit with cold-cathode tubing (ceiling edges and overhead light boxes) also got an LED makeover with LED strips connected by GDS Wireless Constant Voltage Drivers. In total, a combination of 269 clear and frosted ArcLamp fittings were installed at the Savoy, wirelessly driven by 52 D4 drivers via two transmitters, and controlled from three eight-button panels located on-stage, in the control booth, and at stage door.

The finished installation has created energy savings of 90% over the Savoy Theatre's previous lighting system as well as providing the smooth dimming curve that is so crucial to the theatrical experience. As the new West End home to the hit production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the Savoy Theatre continues to impress audiences daily with the new lighting installation delivering on both the visual grandeur and trendsetting tradition of the theatre's long history.

(Jim Evans)

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