01.05.2024 | Jaymi Lee Smith lights “One of the Good Ones” at Pasadena Playhouse with Proteus Odeon

For the March world premiere of "One of the Good Ones" at the Pasadena Playhouse in Southern California, lighting designer Jaymi Lee Smith turned to Elation's new Proteus Odeon LED profile fixture to fulfill a number of lighting roles. The Odeon, a full-featured 30,000-lumen moving head that houses a variable CRI LED engine, allowed the designer to find the best blend of intensity and color accuracy to accurately form the onstage lighting while energizing the theater with full-on effects after the final curtain.

Pasadena Playhouse
Founded in 1917, Pasadena Playhouse, distinguished as the official State Theater of California and honored with the 2023 Regional Theatre Tony Award, stands as one of the nation's most prolific theaters, having staged thousands of original productions. One of those original plays, "One of the Good Ones," which ran from March 13 to April 7, is a new comedy from Gloria Calderón Kellett that explores racial and generational differences while laying bare our biases and preconceptions in a witty yet heartfelt story.

Lighting needs
Award-winning lighting designer Jaymi Lee Smith has designed at some of America's most prestigious theaters over the last 30 years, including the Pasadena Playhouse, and highlights a couple of special lighting needs for "One of the Good Ones." "The production is a realistic comedy. The scenic designer, Tanya Orellana, created a stunning modern house that perfectly reflected the rich history of California's Mexican roots and displayed the socioeconomic class of the family that lived there. While design as a whole needed to gently support this story, and not bring conscious attention to itself, I still wanted the lighting design to help play a character within the play. There were moments when the light needed to match the excited energy on stage, but other moments when the lighting needed to help create tension. These moods needed to be supported within the house but also from the exterior of the home," she stated. "I required a strong sunlight source that could change nuanced color, spread wide enough to cover the windows as a single source, as well as pack a good punch. I also needed quiet fixtures for specials and pick-ups that could blend in well with the rest of the rig."

Since 2007, Jaymi has held the position of Professor of Lighting Design at the University of California, Irvine, where she also serves as Associate Dean for Student Success. In a stroke of serendipity, one of her former students, Nick Saiki, a Product Application and Customer Experience Specialist at Elation, previewed the Proteus Odeon for her at the LDI show in December when she was looking for an advanced framing fixture to use on several other theatre projects. Although the "One of the Good Ones" project was not on her schedule at that time, it soon would be and ultimately presented an ideal opportunity for her to trial the fixture for potential use in future productions.

Proteus Odeon
For "One of the Good Ones," Jaymi had six Odeon fixtures at her disposal, three used for an upstage window wall with one unit on a ladder offstage left for the main architectural window and front door, plus two units on a downstage truss over the audience used for pick-ups. The Odeon's internal 4-blade framing system was a great benefit in sculpting the beam, the designer said, keeping light where it needed to be and avoiding light spill. "The framing system worked great," she said. "Besides framing the windows in back, we also needed to ensure that light stayed off of a cyc that ran very close to the main window and door stage left. The set also had two different ceiling overhangs and for most of my pickups we used the framing structure to cut off those pieces."

Other features of the Proteus Odeon include a CMY color mixing system with CTO color correction, a 5.5° to 50° zoom, and a comprehensive package of effects. Its 850W variable CRI LED engine, called TruTone, is unique and an industry first innovation in color fidelity. The system allows for CRI adjustments across a range from CRI 70 to 93 and lets designers find the best blend of lighting intensity and color accuracy. TruTone also allows the Odeon to work better with lighting console color pickers, producing more accurately the desired hue and saturation.

For a designer who pays special attention to color and composition, Jaymi found the TruTone CRI system useful. "I wanted good color rendering, especially to mimic sunlight and blend in with the incandescent sources I had," she said, noting that she used the variable CRI in pickups as well as the stage left window unit. "I was also very happy with using the variable CTO how they blended in with in them, and the output was fantastic." She also commended their quiet performance, a must for any professional theater setting.

Nick Saiki lauds the TruTone system and says it incorporates features that are specifically tailored to the unique needs of the theatrical market. "With the adjustable fidelity engine, you get to choose how a color appears," he commented. "With reds and magentas, the 90 CRI has more red content and provides a deeper and richer color. With some greens, the 70 CRI lends itself to a more stark color. You don't have to choose high-output or high-fidelity, you get both options in one light."

Dual role
The Odeon can play a dual role in a single show, as a high CRI light in one scene and an effect light with high output in the next, a flexibility that was on display at the end of the play when Jaymi had an opportunity to delve deeper into the Odeon's feature set for a post curtain call moment. Here the designer put the fixtures into "full dance party mode," repositioning them and unveiling more the full effects package of gobos, color, prisms, etc.

The world premiere of "One of the Good Ones" has been universally praised by critics as a triumph and a play that is certainly around to stay. Jaymi concludes by stating that the Proteus Odeon fixtures were a huge help throughout the performance, delivering consistent performance in virtually every cue.

Jaymi Lee Smith: Lighting Designer
Vsev Krawczeniuk: Master Electrician
Keannak Parvaz: Lighting Programmer
Kassia Curl: Assistant Lighting Designer
Photo 1: Keannak Parvaz
Photo 2: Jeff Lorch

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