The most recognizable feature of The Gladstone theatre, the big marquee it uses to advertise its shows, is lighting up the night with new energy-efficient bulbs.
Anyone who crosses Preston Street can’t miss the bright lights of the marquee, according to Tyler Buchanan, lighting specialist with Buchanan Lighting, who says the theatre is so distinctive they use it as a landmark whenever giving directions to people in the area. All 348 of the old 11 watt bulbs were replaced Nov. 14 with 1.4 watt LED bulbs, making the sign just a little brighter and a lot more environmentally friendly.
“Personally, it’s one we’ve always noticed in the neighbourhood. To get to our building, we often use it as a landmark for our customers,” said Buchanan. “If they’re driving here, we’ll say ‘you’ll cross Preston Street and see the Gladstone on the left.’”
AL Connors, the Gladstone’s theatre manager, approached Buchanan Lighting with the task of replacing the marquee lights under the province’s Save on Energy business incentive program. The difficulty was finding bulbs that preserved the traditional look and feel of a theatre marquee, but were also capable of withstanding cold winter temperatures.
“There’s lots of other light bulbs on the market that you could have substituted it with. But for the aesthetics of the building, it took us a little while to find one that would work; that had the energy savings and gave him the look that he wanted,” Buchanan said.
The new LED bulbs have a typical life-span of more than ten times that of incandescent bulbs, and using almost a tenth of the power means they’ll pay for themselves in less than two years.
The marquee has been a signature part of the building since it was added almost 10 years ago. The upgrade to the exterior lighting is only part of a series of retrofit plans coming up, which includes replacing the interior lighting as well, according to Connors.
“It’s what announces to the world that this building is a theatre. You can’t miss it when you’re walking down the street in the evening, but none of that works unless you take care of it and keep it looking its best,” said Connors. “It’s about putting the theatre’s best foot forward.”
Trattoria Caffé Italia, across the street from the Gladstone, has also been using LED lighting for about eight years.
Dominic Carrozza, co-owner of Trattoria Caffé Italia, called the lighting upgrade for his neighbours “smart.” People often come by his restaurant for dinner before or after a stage production next door.
“When they have a popular show, we usually fill up,” he said. “I was out there the day they changed the lights. I think that’s a beautiful sign and I’m sure the LED lights will make it more so.”
The first show to get the full benefit of the improved marquee lights at the Gladstone is Building The Wall, a drama by Tony Award winner Robert Schenkkan about Canada’s southern neighbours, set in 2019. The show plays November at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee Nov. 25 at 2:30 p.m.