Sottile Theatre at the College of Charleston, originally built in 1927, is one of Charleston’s finest. Boasting 785 seats, ornate woodworking, and a large domed ceiling with twinkling stars shining down on the audience, the theatre is a beautiful and exciting place to see a show. In the spring of 2012, Productions Unlimited, Inc. was enlisted to bring the lighting system into the 21st century.

Productions Unlimited, Inc. enlisted the help of longtime Charleston electrical contractor, Electrical Supply Company, Inc., to do the electrical portions of the project. PUI installed three ETC Sensor3 48-module dimmer racks. The Sensor3 dimmer rack is an excellent fit in Sottile Theatre as it seamlessly controls a hybrid lighting system that is comprised of traditional fixtures as well as the new LED fixtures that were installed during this upgrade.

As technology continues to develop, Sottile can easily transition to a full LED lighting rig without the expense of upgrading the dimming system. The Sottile Theatre was also provided with a SP3-96 touring rack. This rugged dimmer rack offers the reliability of permanently installed dimmer racks, while the tough exterior allows it to be moved easily and safely throughout the venue to meet the needs of touring shows.

During this renovation, Sottile Theatre seized the opportunity to replace many of their traditional fixtures with LEDs. ETC’s Selador series served as the ideal solution since the fixtures have the x7 color system, combining seven LED colors to create a vast, flexible palette of vibrant hues. Twenty ETC Selador Vivid-R 11″ fixtures were provided as wash light. Thirty additional Vivid-R fixtures, each 21″, were provided as cyc wash lights. Since these LEDs provide high-intensity color without the large power consumption of traditional fixtures, Sottile Theatre will save on energy costs.

Productions Unlimited, Inc. provided two Robert Juliat Topaze 1119 CCS follow spots. The 1200W Topaze follow spot features a 7°-14° beam angle and a lamp life of 3,000 hours, making this spot light ideal for budget-conscious mid-size theatres.

ETC’s Gio lighting console gives the Sottile Theatre’s facilitators the control needed to utilize their system to the fullest extent. Two attached touchscreen monitors make the Gio easy to use and incredibly compact. Back-lit keys make the Gio even more user-friendly, reducing the amount of keying errors and eliminating the need for external console lights.

The renovation of Sottile Theatre’s lighting system is an excellent example of what a retrofit can do to an old space. With the addition of new dimmer racks, state-of-the-art LED lighting, and a compact yet powerful console, Sottile Theatre is now capable of hosting a wider range of touring shows and supporting the load requirements they specify.