Showlite Now – still working
My involvement with the professional lighting at The Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe led to me receiving many requests for help from the theatre’s amateur users. In 1985 in response to those requests I set up Showlite Stage Lighting.
The business was almost too successful! For the next nineteen years Showlite provided the lighting for almost every non-professional performance at the theatre. This work combined with the professional show lighting which I did as an employee of the theatre meant that my wife and family got used to me being out six and sometimes seven nights a week for most of the year. Lighting the annual Dennis Lowe pantomime at the Spa meant that this absence included the run up to Christmas and most of the Christmas holiday from Boxing Day onwards.
Over those nineteen years I provided the lighting for a host of non-professional shows at the Spa including:
- the East Suffolk Blind Society shows produced by Pat Taplin and Bob Davis
- all performances at the Spa by Pat Taplin’s Gallery Players
- plays presented by Bert Ainsworth’s Brackenbury Players
- musicals and plays by Felixstowe Amateur Dramatic & Operatic Society
- musicals by Felixstowe Musical Theatre and Stage Door Theatre Company
- all pantomimes and Easter Shows presented by Dennis Lowe
- dancing shows presented by the Rita Turner School of Dance
- dancing shows presented by Claire Fulcher’s Apple Dance Company
- most of the ‘Sounds Familiar’ Shows presented by Ipswich Operatic Society
- musicals and plays by Gallery Players at the Sir John Mills Theatre, Ipswich
- several touring and one-off performances by John Southworth’s Dolphin Arts.
In 2003 I changed the company’s trading name to Showlite Sound and Light. I went ‘back to my roots’ and concentrated on providing high quality indoor and outdoor public address systems. I did still enjoy lighting small scale shows when I had the time.
Following that change in direction the sound side of the business expanded enormously. At one point I had available:
- 7 amplifiers varying in output power from 40 to 900 watts
- 21 weather-proof outdoor loudspeakers
- 10 indoor loudspeakers
- 2 CD players
- 1 mini-disk player/recorder
- 1 twin cassette player/recorder
- 18 cabled microphones of various types
- 6 radio microphones both tieclip and hand-held
- 4 mixer desks varying in size from 4 to 12 channels
- a selection of disco lighting effects and lighting control equipment
- band lighting including lights, dimmers and control equipment
- 14 stands for loudspeakers and lights
- 18 microphone stands of various types
- many varieties of connecting cable for loudspeakers, microphones and power.
Our regular client base has included:
- Ipswich JAFFA Running Club
- Ipswich Borough Council
- Aldeburgh Town Council
- Aldeburgh Angling Association
- Aldeburgh Carnival Committee
- Felixstowe Lawn Tennis Club
- Easton and Otley College
- Suffolk Young Farmers
- Sudbury Choral Society
As well as supplying equipment on a ‘hire only’ basis, we attended numerous events in the course of a year – everything from carnivals to conferences and fetes to funerals, with quiz nights and a wedding or two thrown in.
However, in 2017 I began to realize that I was not getting any younger so I took the decision to down-size the business. Showlite is still trading and I do still attend some outdoor events, but I have now sold most of the bigger sound equipment and all of the band and disco lighting. Show lighting now is purely for pleasure. I know that I will eventually have to make the decision to stop completely, but not yet!