Today, our President & CEO Dione Kennedy blogs about the latest lighting and sound upgrades we’ve installed in the auditorium of Bass Performance Hall, in hopes of making the Hall’s wonderful acoustics even more so. These upgrades took us high above the stage, in secret rooms, on hidden beams, places the public has never seen. Until now, that is. We hired local photographer Jill Johnson to capture images of these seldom-seen nooks and crannies, as Dione explains below.
There’s never really a “slow time” at Bass Performance Hall. If nothing is happening on the stage, you can bet there’s something happening above or below it.
Last year, we here at Performing Arts Fort Worth cleared the calendars of Bass Hall, Van Cliburn Recital Hall and McDavid Studio to make sound and lighting upgrades. We strive to bring you the best the entertainment world has to offer, using the best audio and visual razzmatazz that the technical industry has to offer.
To help orchestrate these tasks, we brought in David Lawler, an old friend of the Hall who has guided us through upgrades since 1999, and technicians from J.R. Clancy, one of the leading companies in stage rigging. Over the course of several weeks, our Production and Building Services teams worked with Lawler and J.R. Clancy techs on these upgrades, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the end results. You’ll now notice crisper sound and sharper lights in all three spaces.
The biggest change we made was in sound, as we converted from analog to digital. Robert Earl Keen’s Texas-sized guitar riffs will be bigger and bolder. And when Hal Holbrook whispers a quiet, dramatic line in “Mark Twain Tonight,” you’ll hear every nuance in every utterance, as this upgrade boosted speech intelligibility.
We also overhauled our lighting, replacing some of our longtime theatrical lighting fixtures with state-of-the-art, color-changing LED lights. At the same time, we also had our routine rigging inspection and shell-ceiling maintenance done.
This was fun but sometimes harrowing work that found our teams high above the stage, nine stories from the ground.
Ongoing work in the Hall includes upgrades to our spotlights, which are housed in what we call a “spot booth.” This is a teeny-tiny room, hidden away from plain sight, where up to four people man the spotlights that “follow” the performers onstage.
Those who work the spotlights for touring Broadway shows often stencil the name and date of their tours somewhere in our spot booth – an old theater tradition.
Broadway tours such as Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, West Side Story and The Lion King have left behind their colorful signatures in our spot booth, and we thought it would be fun to show them to you. Since that area of the Hall is inaccessible to the public, this may be the only time you get a glimpse of this magical little spot.
The incredible images below, taken by our house photographer Jill Johnson, should give you a good idea of how goose-bump-raising all of this work can be.
I do hope that you’ll come see us soon, so you can fall in love with Bass Hall all over again, as I certainly did after I experienced all of these incredible technical upgrades.
Enjoy Jill’s images below. See you at the theater.
All photos by Jill Johnson.