Penn & Teller’s outrageous blend of magic and comedy has remained one of the hottest tickets in Las Vegas for over 20 years, and when the production team decided to upgrade the show’s set and scenery, it was also time to invest in new stage lighting technology. Lighting designer Jeff Croiter specified eight High End Systems SolaSpot Pro 1500s, purchased through 4Wall, for the Penn & Teller Theatre in the Rio Hotel.
Croiter explains, “I was in Las Vegas during LDI, at meetings in preparation to do the Penn & Teller show renovation. I had a day off and went to the convention, and I ran into Al Ridella from 4Wall. He said ‘you have to come over and see this light – I’m thinking about buying some’, and that light was the SolaSpot Pro 1500. Al introduced me to Bobby Hale and the High End team, and they ran the light through its paces. I was very impressed, and started thinking about how I could use this fixture.
“When it came time to put the new Penn & Teller show together, I thought the SolaSpot would be the perfect light to specify for that application. Since we were planning to purchase fixtures, we did a number of shootouts, and the SolaSpot came out on top. I knew I wanted an LED source in order to reduce fan noise and for ease of maintenance. And the shuttering feature was also a necessity. In the Penn & Teller show, as in most shows that I do, it’s as much about what you aren’t lighting as what you are, so I really needed the control to be able to frame the light.”
Croiter says the 1500s are the first LED profiles in the design, adding that “The Penn & Teller rig is an eclectic mix of all kinds of lights, and we purchased the SolaSpots to replace old profile fixtures”.
He continues, “This show has been running for many years, and when we updated the set design, the lighting rig was upgraded as well. We wanted to purchase some modern technology, and it didn’t make sense to go with conventional or metal halide sources. The SolaSpot Pro 1500s are super bright, and really cut through a conventional rig when you want them to, as well as blend in superbly. I like that you can create a tungsten balance.
“With the CTO we could get them to match the tungsten lights in the rig, and also show off the vibrant colour options in the SolaSpot. I found it to be an incredibly bright fixture that satisfied our needs for colour specificity and color dynamics.”
Matt Staniec is Penn & Teller’s lighting supervisor, and runs the show six nights a week. Lighting programming was handled by Marc Polimeni.