The Piccadilly Theatre in London’s West End opened in 1928 as one of the largest theatres in London. In 2017, it underwent a major refurbishment, aimed at enhancing many of its original features using modern technology, as well as meeting modern sustainability targets.
Theatre owners Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) wanted to completely replace the Piccadilly Theatre’s existing house light system with low-energy LED lighting, without detracting in any way from the theatre’s Art Deco heritage. This was to include emergency lighting throughout as well as provision for the recently restored dome ceiling, including new centre-piece chandelier. Integrator White Light was engaged to install the new system.
GDS supplied products from across its entire range to meet this extensive brief, including a number of bespoke special project items that avoided any compromise within the design.
In excess of 50 x ArcSystem 1 Cell 2700K (large and small) fixtures were used for downlighting and emergencies, whilst more than 25 x ArcLamp Golf Ball Clear 2700K were installed as wall lighting.
ArcSystem Decor LED strip (white and RGBW) was used throughout to light the dome, coving and rear windows.
The ATG Group, following GDS’s recommendation, asked top designer James Morse to design a new central chandelier that would sit well with the other Art Deco luminaires within the auditorium. Morse designed a large, three-tiered chandelier which met the brief to ATG’s satisfaction and Great British Lighting of Fleetwood duly fabricated the finished item.
On completion it was transported in sections to GDS HQ in Bristol where LED strip was installed. GDS mounted 5m of ArcSystem LED Strip to the internal frame of the chandelier. The 2700K strip comprised 120 LEDs per metre with a CRI of 90 at 19.2W per metre. Having been tested for light output and appearance, the sections made their final journey to the Piccadilly and assembled together to be winched into position.
Matt Lloyd, sales director at GDS, comments: “The Piccadilly Theatre install is a fine example of a job that draws from every part of the GDS range but also demonstrates our flexibility and responsiveness when it comes to provision for special projects. James Morse’s beautiful chandelier design was brilliantly realised by Great British Lighting and it remained for us to ensure that the final product was perfect. Set in context, everyone agrees, it looks stunning.”
Stuart Graham, head of technical operations at ATG, adds: “The GDS system is a market-leading LED product aimed specifically at auditorium lighting. It’s retrofittable and it doesn’t compromise dimming curve or colour temperature, allowing the auditorium to retain a tungsten lighting feel. This made it the number one choice for ATG when planning our upgrade to the house light system at the Piccadilly Theatre. The addition of a new chandelier, wired with GDS fittings has become a focal point, housed in a newly refurbished and decorated ceiling. The finished lighting system is outstanding, of exceptional quality and really brings the beautiful Piccadilly Theatre auditorium to life.”
In almost 90 years of history, the Piccadilly has presented most forms of stage entertainment, as well as enjoying the claim to fame of premiering the first ever talking picture in Britain, The Singing Fool starring Al Jolson, in its opening year.
By the 1990s the focus at The Piccadilly was firmly on musicals and for the most part, that genre has been its staple ever since. Jailhouse Rock, Guys and Dolls, Grease The Musical, Ghost The Musical and Dirty Dancing have all enjoyed successful runs in recent years and the Piccadilly’s star shows no sign of waning.