Volunteer lets light shine for Vandergrift theater

| Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, 8:53 a.m.

Brady Bottegal has dedicated much of his time to shedding light on situations at the Casino Theatre in more ways than one.

A Lower Burrell resident, Bottegal stepped up to work as a volunteer on the stage lighting at the historic Vandergrift theater more than 14 years ago.

With no prior experience but a love of lighting, Bottegal eased himself into the role, reading books about the subject and consulting with experts.

“I knew nothing about stage lighting. Nothing,” he said, adding that he learned through a lot of trial and error — mostly error, he said with a laugh.

He designs and works the lighting for the theater's concerts, plays and other performances. He has played an instrumental role in improving the theater's lighting system as well as other technical features.

Though he didn't have a background working behind the stage at performances, he did have plenty of experience being an audience member.

“When I'd go (to a performance), I wasn't even paying attention to the show,” he said, “I was just watching the lights go on and off.”

That interest has given him an insight into how the lights should operate and not just from a technical point of view.

“I try to make the audience feel the lights, not see them,” he said. “And that's what I create, that emotion.”

Bottegal doesn't only work the lights, he recommends items and features to the Casino's board of directors that would improve the capabilities of the theater. He, too, is a member of the board.

He has been instrumental in adding moving lights, LED lights and computer-operated smart lights. The house lights, which used to have to be turned on with a dimmer switch, now, at his suggestion, have been changed to a full panel-controlled system.

It's not only lights that he's helped to bring to the Casino. He also serves as the public address announcer at every show and is part of the theater's weekly Tuesday night work crew. Since the theater became operational again, dedicated volunteers have been part of its ongoing renovation process.

“There's not just one project going on — there's always three or four,” he said. “There's always activity here. It's fun. It's a good atmosphere.”

For Bottegal, volunteering at the Casino is certainly not being about being in the spotlight.

“I'm not the only one here,” he said. “I'm just a slice of the pie. Everybody brings in their talent and does their own thing. There's a lot of people's talents that go in here.”

It's likely that Bottegal and his fellow volunteers will be putting their talents into the Casino for years to come.

“We hope we're never done,” he said. “We don't know what we'd do Tuesday nights.”

Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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