ETC Gear Shines a New Light on the Marlene Boll Theater

The Marlene Boll Theater is housed inside the Detroit Metropolitan YMCA; a 2500-foot black box space, the theater regularly hosts plays, social events, film screenings, and award ceremonies.

When the YMCA received a capital gift to further the arts in their community, Seth Amadei, Director of Event Operations at the theater, reached out to TLS Productions, Inc. to upgrade their lighting.

After meeting with TLS’ Paul Ryan and Emily Ann Jugowicz, 20 High End Systems SolaFrame 750s, nine High End Systems SolaPix 7s, six ETC ColorSource Spots, 10 ETC Irideon FPZs, an Ion Xe 20 console, and numerous ETC networking devices were installed in the venue.

Marlene Boll Theater

Seth explains how these new fixtures have changed the Marlene Boll Theater. “The original lighting system was about 15 years old. It was running Strand CD80 dimmers, about 200 used fixtures, mostly Source Four, some ellipsoidals, various PARs, Altman strips for my cyc, and an ETC Element console. The dimmers were getting temperamental.”

“Often, I would get no response from the board and would have to reset the 600-amp breaker feeding the racks, cross my fingers, and hope everything turned back on. Now I can offer so much more to my clients. I’m no longer limited to a certain number of dimmers – needing multiple fixtures for each color or focus position is no longer a limitation. It is especially great for dance festivals. I was limited to one rep plot for an entire show; now I can give each customer exactly what they want.”

18 SolaFrame 750 fixtures sit in a horseshoe above the seating, with an additional two in the center, while nine SolaPix 7s are hung in a grid over the playing area. Talking about these new additions to the theater, Amadei said, “I love everything about these fixtures. The flexibility that both give me is incredible.”

“The SolaFrame 750 has great color, beam angles, gobo rotation, and brightness! The color mixing on the SolaPix is amazing, and I love the zoom. I can use them as a general color wash or isolate smaller areas anywhere on stage with just these nine fixtures. I can do with these nine fixtures, something that would take an infinite number of conventional pars to achieve. I love not having to get in the genie or the extension ladder to refocus!”

Six ColorSource Spots and six ColorSource PARs migrate around the theater to help accent set pieces and fill in where needed. Eight Color Source CYC lights round out the stage gear, lighting up the walls with beautiful even washes of color. Seth uses an ETC Ion Xe 20 to run all these fixtures.

He elaborates on the new equipment by saying, “The improvement of the ColorSource fixtures over their conventional counterparts is astronomical. They have beautiful color mixing, sharp beams, and amazing brightness. It’s not even fair to compare the new CYC to the old three-channel strips I was using; oh, and touch screen monitors on the ETC Ion … how did I ever live without them?”

From the small Irideons lighting up the aisle ways to the SolaFrame fixtures covering the stage, ETC gear has changed how the Marlene Boll Theater looks and how it operates.

Seth explains, “I am basically a one-man operation. I’m the technical director, lighting designer, sound engineer, house manager, and janitor. I can’t tell you how much these new installations have upped my game. I love everything about this new system. I can do more with 50 fixtures than I was ever able to do with 200.”

In closing, TLS’ Paul Ryan adds, “The majority of the stage lights are movers, and Seth really liked all the gobos – being able to put break ups all over the stage floor was a big plus to have at a moment’s notice. Personally, I love the animation wheel for theatrical purposes to give a little movement in the space – you add that to a gobo and it’s great. I really like that it’s a full animation wheel!”

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Quinn Wirth
Quinn joined ETC in 2018 with a background in marketing for K-12 and higher education. Studying English in college and tutoring writing across the curriculum fostered her passion for words and weakness for puns. When she’s not writing, she’s likely watching horror movies with her husband or plugging away at her goal of reading 50 books each year. A Wisconsin local, she loves seeing ETC products at work in Madison-area venues she has frequented throughout her life.