Studio Gear of Milwaukee has been providing top level audio-visual and lighting equipment rentals, production services and sales to its customers throughout the United States for over 30 years. The company is a great advocate of Robert Juliat, and Tim Cooksy, Studio Gear’s sales and integration specialist, is familiar with Robert Juliat fixtures having used them many times before: “I personally have installed Robert Juliat in a lot of different venues including theme parks, amphitheatres and touring shows. I have never had a bad experience with a Robert Juliat spot light,“ he said.
Two recent Studio Gear installations, both in Milwaukee and each with different characters, called for some flexible solutions from Robert Juliat. Studio Gear supplied 4 RJ Roxie2 300W LED followspots to Shorewood High School and a single RJ Oz 600W LED followspot to Milwaukee Repertory Theater. All the followspots were sourced by Studio Gear from ACT Lighting, Robert Juliat’s exclusive distributor for North America and Canada, with Cooksy working closely with ACT’s Aaron Hubbard.
The 1250-capacity Barb Gensler Theater for The Dramatic Arts at Shorewood High School is run by technical director Brad Brist. The theatre set-up is larger than most as the school commits heavily to the performing arts with an ambitious programme for their students that outstrips most others in the region. In September 2019, Brist invested in 4 Roxie2 followspots which arrived just in time to be put to use on Shorewood High School’s big winter musical, Urinetown.
“It made a lot of sense for the school to purchase 4 Roxie2 followspots instead of two larger units as it gave the students more creative options,” explains Cooksy. “The school produces a lot of musicals, and to have just two spots would only allow for the lighting of duets. With four smaller, lightweight Roxie2’s the students have the opportunity to double-spot actors for duets, use multiple colours to texture light, or have individual spots for four main protagonists or ensemble lighting. In addition, Roxie’s 10.5°-22.5° zoom range is so versatile for small spaces, and its narrowest beam means there’s no need for an iris as you can still get lot of light output out of the fixture even at 10.5°.”
Shorewood High School’s Urinetown was followed by a Middle School production of Xanadu Jr which employed two of the new Roxie2 followspots. “The Roxie2’s compact 300W engine made it a great fit for the high school setting. That, combined with the DMX control, made it extremely accessible for any student to use,” confirmed Cooksy.
The 720-seat Quadracci Powerhouse Theater is one of four theatres that make up the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the most prestigious space in town offering the finest and most popular professional theatre productions.
Studio Gear has enjoyed a long relationship with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, and when Cooksy knew the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater was looking for a new followspot replacement it was, he said, “a no-brainer” for the Robert Juliat Oz. “The theatre is a thrust-driven space, with a tradition of one-spot shows,” he said. “The spot box is centrally placed at the rear of a horseshoe auditorium and the theatre was in urgent need of a single, powerful followspot that could punch through the stage wash from a distance of 75’-100’ from stage front to back. The 7°-14.5° zoom on Oz makes it an easy fit for this space, able to cover every angle and throw length demanded by the stage.
Milwaukee Rep purchased their Oz followspot in August 2019, since when it has been used on productions of West Side Story and The Legend of Georgia McBride this season, with plans for many more shows in the future.
“We’ve had great feedback from the technicians and operators at the venue and the presence of Oz has definitely elevated their performances. The operators love how seamless the transition has been from their previous spot to this and really appreciate all the ergonomic features for which RJ are so well known. The techs and designers also really enjoy the nice flat field that an LED source gives, as well as the power/cost savings involved.”
Studio Gear’s clients are both very satisfied with their purchases and the recommendations and service they received from the company, and Cooksy is confident of choice of Robert Juliat for future projects: “Our clients came to us looking for high output spotlights and Studio Gear had no hesitation in suggesting the Robert Juliat Oz for the Milwaukee Rep and Roxie2 for Shorewood High School. Both models took on their own roles in different spaces and, being able to answer the two diverse challenges with the features of each of the Roxie2 and Oz, it was an easy choice to go with Robert Juliat.
“I am always trying to find the next great upgrade for any kind of venue, and with Robert Juliat staying up on what the industry needs, there is no reason why I wouldn’t continue to specify them.”