Cincinnati Shakespeare

”Our current lights are basically the SUV’s of the lighting world. We are so grateful for this opportunity, as it will change our lives and our art in a profound and meaningful way.” 

-Brian Phillips, producing artistic director




Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) of Ohio was voted the grand prize winner of the LED Source® and Coemar LEDko Challenge contest, and received a complete Reflection LEDko lighting makeover worth $20,000.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, began theater productions of Shakespeare and the classics for modern audiences in 1993. Located in the heart of downtown Cincinnati’s Backstage district in a small converted movie house, the theater seats 185, employs a resident ensemble of actors and performs nine main stage productions annually.

CSC produces classics, the great works and performances that rarely get a chance to be seen. These plays have stood the test of time and the staging is thoughtfully crafted to create an engaging experience that will resonate with the audience.

CSC was among the top five finalists in the LEDko Challenge contest for their submission of a creative and humorous video, that demonstrated their “ancient” lighting system. Theater employees often said their lighting caused blackouts and delays during both rehearsals and performances. The Company was chosen as the winner by fans on the Facebook Reflection LEDko page through a voting process.

For CSC, power outages and outdated stage lighting are now a thing of the past. Reflection LEDko LED profiles will allow CSC to seamlessly transition from a battle scene to a banquet in the blink of an eye. Additional, the new LEDko fixtures will ensure that their education outreach program will continue to help more than 20,000 theater students every year.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company before LEDko

Portable dimmer boxes, as well as 24 dimmer racks located in the booth, provided most of the power for lighting each of the productions. However, being continually in use, fans were needed to cool the racks in an effort to prevent blowing power cubes on every show and fusing dimmers in the ‘on’ position.

Running extension cords throughout the theater was also common practice. Cords were often plugged into offices on the second floor, the lobby, the upstage portable dimmer boxes and into surge protectors backstage, all in an effort to prevent breakers from blowing. Having light levels higher than 85% would blow a breaker in about 2 minutes. In the past, cast members were known to perform with just flashlights.

The lighting grid

CSC was very resourceful and lived the motto “the show must go on.” The lighting grid consisted of about 80% borrowed fixtures and at the end of each season, all of the lights needed to be returned. Summer productions consisted of only a handful of lighting fixtures that were actually owned by CSC.

Using a uni-strut grid instead of a pipe grid on a low ceiling meant that there was no additional space for fixtures. Hanging took exponentially longer and was more taxing due to the weight of each fixture.

Previous fixtures

CSC previously used Altman 6×9 and 6×12 Ellipsoidal Spotlights for their theater productions. These fixtures consumed 750 Watts each at 120V, used an EHF halogen lamp and were very hot to operate. The additional heat also meant that any gobos used were made of metal and custom ordered, thus creating an additional cost for the Company.

The Altman fixtures were replaced with the Reflection LEDko FullSpectrum. By making the switch, the overloading dimmer racks and running extension cords throughout the building, has been put to an end. In addition, maintenance costs for replacement lamps, power cubes, replacement bases, gobos and gels, is eliminated. During their Grapes of Wrath production, which was also the debut of LEDko, CSC was able to preform without any power outages or blown breakers

Case Study