The curtain is rising on a new era for the Department of Music and Theatre as Steele Hall begins its first full performance season with new sound systems in both Mainstage and Blaney theaters.
Installed by Intertech, the sound system in Steele Hall’s 639-seat Mainstage Theatre was completed last fall for the December production of The Happy Elf. The system will be used for the first time in the 150-seat Blaney Theatre Feb. 21-23 during the production of Edges.
The systems enhance opportunities for students in Cal U’s programs in theater
, commercial music technology
, and design and entertainment technology
Both systems include new digital Yamaha QL 5 and QL 1 sound boards, Dante software, and an overhaul of all speakers, microphones and communication systems.
Assistive listening is also available on Cal U’s new sound system. Patrons can request headphones at the box office that feed into the system.
“Now we are ADA compliant in a completely different way and can now bring the sound directly to people that have difficulty hearing,” said Dr. Michele Pagen, co-chair of the Department of Music and Theatre. “It makes our venue even more attractive.”
The new system takes a strictly analog broadcasting system and brings it into the new digital realm. Nearly all of the equipment can communicate over a single digital network that is controlled by DANTE, Digital Audio Networking Through Ethernet.
“With a DANTE System, it is possible to have multiple mixing consoles, microphones, etc. to seamlessly communicate with one another with a few simple ‘clicks,’ said Greg Davis, an assistant professor in Cal U’s commercial music technology program.
“During a live performance, for example, the pit orchestra could be miked and performing in the Blaney Theater, and the mixing engineer in the Mainstage can receive those signals and output them to the audience in real time.”
Pagen said providing hands-on experience with ‘live sound’ and an updated system benefits students.
“Training in studio sound and training in live sound are very different beasts, and all of these students as well as technology education students seeking to be involved with, say, theater programs at high schools they work at will all benefit greatly.”
Theater and design entertainment technology major Jeshua Myers said alumni who work as professional sound technicians tell him this technology is what they see in venues nationwide.
“This prepares me to be able to go into a facility where I am immediately familiar with their boards and can begin working right away, which is an important advantage,” Myers said.
“As an actor, understanding sound and how it works has been beneficial in the process of microphone checks and communicating and helping other performers during rehearsals.”
Experiencing and working with the new sound system was a highlight that attracted several hundred students and professionals in theater design and technology to participate in the United States Institute for Theatre Technology Ohio Valley Section’s fall conference last November in Steele Hall.
Pagen also is looking forward to the benefits of the new system this summer, when Cal U hosts its annual five-day Estill International Vocal Workshop.
“It’s the latest state-of-the-art equipment that’s used in prominent performing venues, so students will want to come here to work on this system,” said Pagen.
“This is a big step for us.”