Parker Playhouse Modernises the Stage with Martin Professional Fixtures

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts collaborated with Pro Sound’s Stage Equipment & Lighting division to create a cutting-edge lighting system featuring Martin Professional fixtures for the newly-renovated Parker Playhouse theater.

Founded in 1967, the Parker Playhouse is a beloved fixture of the local Fort Lauderdale arts community, hosting a variety of Broadway shows, plays, concerts, dance and educational events for the past 54 years. In 2020, a $30 million renovation and restoration project transformed the building from a historical playhouse into a modern live music venue. Now known as The Parker, the theater is set to welcome back audiences and host a wide variety of events this fall, from educational children’s shows to rock concerts by artists including Rick Springfield and Lindsey Buckingham. As part of the effort to transform The Parker into a multifaceted venue equipped to serve the needs of modern live productions, The Broward Center, which has managed The Parker since 2005, and the Stage Equipment & Lighting (SEAL) division of Pro Sound Inc. designed a lighting system featuring Martin ERA 800, MAC Aura, and ELP-CL lights.

“We do a lot of the community events as well as educational shows for kids in the mornings, but then by the time the sun goes down, we’re ready to do a rock and roll concert,” said Anton Foresta, Director of Production-Affiliated Venues, the Broward Center. “One of the primary goals of the renovations was that concerts hosted by The Parker started getting bigger and requiring higher production values for today’s touring artists. When we take a look at a production’s rider, we want to be able to provide the artists’ first choices in equipment. So, when it came to deciding on a lighting package, everyone’s first choice was always Martin. That’s why we worked so hard to make sure that we could install a full Martin package as we reimagined the theater.”

The main component of the new lighting setup is the Martin MAC Aura single-lens wash light, with sixteen on electric line sets and four on a motorized truss. Featuring a broad RBGY color spectrum and eye-candy Aura effects, the MAC Aura combines multicolor beam LEDs with a backlight LED array to generate deep washes, subtle shades and more. Additionally, the lighting team installed eight Martin ERA 800 Performance LED profile fixtures in a v-shape pointing upstage for wide washes, powerful beams and eclectic patterns. The CMY color mixing and six-slot color wheel provide numerous blending options, while features including static and rotating gobos and full stage framing blades with +/- 60° rotation make the ERA adaptable to any production.

“The Auras are our main wash,” said Robyn Allemand, Technical Coordinator, The Parker. “We placed them on most of our electric line sets to give an even wash and also because they can zoom in really well. It’s great to have the option to provide movement. We wanted to make sure the line sets were even in rows that fit onstage to allow for a fun look or a general overhead wash look.”

“One of the reasons why I recommended the Auras and the ERAs for The Parker was because of the massive amounts of flexibility these fixtures provide while still doing everything the production team needs to accomplish to fulfill technical riders,” added Kirstin Anderson, Sales Engineer, SEAL.

Finally, 38 Martin ELP CL LED ellipsoidal profile lights provide impressive functionality and power output of 6,900 lumens. The ELP is also equipped with the gear-based Fine Focus––an industry first––which allows for adjusting and locking in the focus instantly, as well as an RGBAL Luxeon Rebel LED engine for a vivid and striking color palette.

The Parker team recently turned on the lighting rig in the theater’s Lillian S. Wells Hall for the first time and were reportedly thrilled with the results. Both Anton and Robyn note that Martin’s innovative and reliable lighting solutions are a key component in ushering in a new, modern era for The Parker.

“When people see that you have Martin fixtures, that’s as far as they need to go,” said Anton. “Everybody already has the profiles for it. It makes it really easy for touring companies coming through with their own consoles to take over and merge the system to their files. Again, just looking at the riders, the first choice is always Martin.”

“This new lighting is something we’ve never seen at The Parker, especially for the actual permanent plot,” added Robyn. “It was a big moment for us and the crew to be able to see the strong colors and the variety of looks that we could pull with our new lights. This rig is truly state of the art and will not just be for this year or even the next five years, we’re confident that what we have installed with Martin is going to last. This system is pulling us into the future, not just getting to the present, and that’s really awesome for artists and audiences alike.”