When you attend a concert or show, you probably don’t give much thought to the work that went into designing and setting up the stage, sound, or lighting. But it’s the team of trained professionals who set up and run it that makes for a great show experience.
For more than a decade Center Stage Lighting & Rigging, Inc. in Allentown has been the company behind the scenes at many of the region’s premier concert venues and theaters. And the company’s success has lead to an opportunity to expand thanks in part to a recent $100,000 Allentown Enterprise Zone Loan.
Center Stage President and Owner Paul Tardue worked with David Dunn, Allentown Economic Development Corporation’s Program Manager, Economic Development Programs, to apply for the 10-year loan, which will be used to buy new lighting, sound, and staging equipment.
The loan prompted the company’s move to a larger space next door to its existing office, which will take it from 3,000 sqft. to 8,000 sqft. The move should be completed by the end of February.
“The new office will give us space for a sales showroom, as well as more space for storage and prep, plus a loading dock and drive-thru door, making it much easier to load in and load out our trucks,” explained Tardue. “The loan is allowing us to buy larger pieces of equipment that we wouldn’t have had the space to store in our previous space. So we had to grow in size physically.”
Center Stage handles stage, lighting, and sound production for shows from designing the sets, to setting it up and taking it down. It also rents equipment, performs installation, and does equipment sales. They are a Rosco brand dealer of light gels, and also sell everything from specialty paints for sets to headsets, and even dance floors.
“The showroom will allow us to expand retail sales of sound and lighting equipment, as well as personal protective equipment,” added Tardue. “Because of the safety involved with a stage production, we have become known as the experts in PPE for industries beyond ours, such as construction. We are a Petzl dealer for fall protection harnesses, hard hats, and other related safety equipment. So we can now offer this line of products to any industry.”
Center Stage works with area concert halls, event centers, theaters, colleges, and high schools. Recent highlights include working with the Lehigh Valley Performing Arts High School in Southside Bethlehem to design and build the new school’s theater. They have also worked with Lehigh Valley Health Network on the renovation of the auditorium at the Cedar Crest location, and upgraded the lighting system and installing a projection screen at Moravian College’s Foy Hall.
A union shop for the past two years, Center Stage is the only Lehigh Valley member of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. They have five full-time employees and two-part time. When additional help is needed on a show, Tardue contacts the union for trained stage professionals.
Thanks to the Zone Loan, Tardue expects to hire an additional employee or two over the next year to help with the demand.