Taft Theater Goes Green

Taft's fall production of Footloose marked the debut of environmentally-friendly upgrades to the historic Bingham stage.

"Twenty-seven LED stage lighting fixtures were installed in September," explained Performing Arts Technical Director David Kievit. "It is an upgrade we have been looking at for some time, and which should result in substantial cost savings for the school."

Stage lighting in Bingham incorporates both the cyclorama, or backdrop system, and the "down light" over the stage. Using the old halogen light system, 18,000 watts of power were required to light the cyclorama. LED lighting reduces that demand to 840 watts. Nine down-lighting installations were replaced with 25 LED fixtures, reducing demand from 9,000 watts to 900.

"Adding color to the down lighting required three separate lighting systems and colored plastic gels," Kievit explained. "Running three systems boosted the wattage demand to 27,000. LED lights have the built-in capacity to change color, keeping the demand at 900 watts, regardless of the colors used to light the stage."

According to the US Department of Energy, LED lighting uses at least 75% less energy and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. LED bulbs are also recyclable, and contain no mercury.

Footloose also marked the first use of rechargeable batteries in the wireless microphone packs worn by the actors.

"For a show like Footloose our performers will use 22 mic packs, requiring 44 AA batteries," said Kievit. "Between rehearsals and performances, we would use more than 300 batteries for a show."

And while the rechargeable batteries will bring the school some financial benefits, they also mean that far fewer batteries will end up in landfills.