Bringing the Lights Up: The Lighting Center Is a Key Partner in Developing a New Chandelier for Portsmouth’s Music Hall
For 65 years, there was something missing at The Music Hall. The curtain rose on the shows, of course. Talent lit up the stage. Audiences rose in appreciation of fine, local art.
But something, something, wasn’t quite right.
Gail VanHoy Carolan—The Music Hall’s director of institutional advancement and former co-chair of the Treasure the Future campaign—knew exactly what that missing detail was: a period-appropriate, artistic chandelier for the theater. And she knew who could deliver it: the Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric.
“The renovations we’ve been working on at The Music Hall have really brought the theater back to glory,” VanHoy Carolan says. “But until now, this princess has been wearing a ‘garbage can lid’ for lighting. To fix that, we needed the right team to re-create the chandelier that is estimated to have been in use in 1901.”
When VanHoy Carolan approached Jim Pender, president and CEO of the Lighting Center at Rockingham Electric, and Cindy Regnier, a lighting designer there, “we were happy to be called in for such an important role,” Pender says.
“Because we had just finished work on the lobby,” Regnier says, “we understood the design and impression The Music Hall needed to convey. It was wonderful to be able to continue this work in the theater itself.”cess has been wearing a ‘garbage can lid’ for lighting. To fix that, we needed the right team to recreate the chandelier that is estimated to have been in use in 1901.”
VanHoy Carolan, Pender, and Regnier were part of the design team—which also included Patricia Lynch, executive director of The Music Hall, and Ben Auger, owner of Auger Building Co., Inc.—who worked collaboratively over 18 months to create the chandelier. “We wanted to echo the original chandelier,” Regnier says. “And there was historical data available, but the photos were nearly unrecognizable. So we worked through that and spent a good deal of time determining the fixture’s overall scale and size—it needed to be larger but not interfere with the theater’s projector.”
The end result is a completely custom-made mixture that is 60 inches wide by 61 inches long and has five tiers of long crystal strands. The inner frame accommodates 16 lamps, all of which are dimmable LED that use only a total of 176 watts of energy. The piece was made by Framburg Lighting, which was able to deliver a 100% American-made product.
Ahead of the chandelier’s unveiling in November, Lynch had described The Music Hall’s transformation as similar to Cinderella’s Crystal Ball:
It’s a comparison that fits the project well. “The fixture is appropriate and fitting for The Music Hall’s beautifully restored theater,” Pender says. “We’re profoundly proud of the results: the chandelier is both elegant and stately.”“She was forgotten, overlooked, all of her best features obscured. … But inside there was glow and a light just waiting to come out, and she believed she could hold on, and in holding on maybe times would change. And times did change. People were ready to help her and … make her the beauty she always was. Bit by bit, she came back, her beautiful features cleaned and brightened, her body toned and repaired, with thrilling new styles and fine old details. Now … she will sparkle and shine as if new, only better than new because she has had so much love.”
It’s a comparison that fits the project well. “The fixture is appropriate and fitting for The Music Hall’s beautifully restored theater,” Pender says. “We’re profoundly proud of the results: the chandelier is both elegant and stately.”
Photo Credit: David Murray, Clear Eye Photo