The Weathervane Playhouse has humble roots that can be traced back to a carriage house, when in 1935, four artistically-talented Women’s City Club members joined forces with the common goal of presenting a spectrum of plays in their Ohio community. Nearly 80 years later, the Weathervane Playhouse has since moved out of the “barn” and into a space that has become a hub for collaboration, diversity, and excellence. We recently had the chance to interview some of the key individuals at Weathervane Playhouse to discuss the practices that have led them to 84 seasons of theatrical success and learn more about why they selected the 3000 Series Wireless System to capture their on-stage audio.
How has the theater remained such a community-centered organization for more than 80 years?
I think that this can be summed up in the fact that the community has been the center of Weathervane. Weathervane IS the community. Between performers, designers, builders, board members, customer service, and educational offerings, we have nearly 500 volunteers annually who spend several 100,000 hours volunteering at the playhouse.
With such a long history, is technology something that has always been a part of the Weathervane Playhouse, or is that something that has been adopted more recently?
All throughout Weathervane’s history, we upgraded technology whenever we could. In the late 1990s we literally raised the roof and added a fly system to our mainstage. In the early 2000s, we installed a camera in our theatre for backstage, orchestra, and lobby monitoring and purchased a new sound board. In the last 10 years, we added LED lights and “movers” to our stage with a generous grant from Best Buy, updated our spotlights, purchased new house speakers, and this fall, purchased new microphones for our performers through Audio-Technica. We continue to look at ways to “up our game” every season. We are always interested in ways to increase our technological capabilities with video and photo projections on the horizon and, as always, safer tools in our shop.
What initially sparked the theater’s interest for collaboration with A-T for its sound system?
Weathervane has frequently purchased and worked with A-T products and really love working with their products. The A-T 3000 series gave us everything we were looking for and more. The backup channels have completely eliminated the signal drop issues we have dealt with in the past, and the mics sound fantastic even before they are EQ’d. Rechargeable technology was a huge plus — in years past Weathervane recycled about 3,000 batteries a year and we have been looking for the opportunity to utilize a greener technology. Clear Gold Audio, a major sponsor of Weathervane Playhouse, has a great relationship with A-T and helped us decide that this was the perfect system for us. We also love that A-T is right down the street from us and is always willing to answer questions and assist with suggestion, as well as make repairs when necessary.
The theater recently installed 16 channels of A-T’s 3000 Series 4th Generation Wireless Systems. Can you describe the details of the installation and plans for usage?
We installed all 16 units in a rack on a table to the left of the mixing console. This was placed at eye level so that the sound operator could easily read the screens on each receiver and quickly identify any trouble spots during a performance. We also installed four RF Venue antenna distribution units, which cascade to one another, being fed from one RF Venue diversity paddle antenna. This antenna system has been amazing, and we have not experienced a single drop out.
The entire system has a very clean look, and it is easy to identify the wireless systems because they are set up in groups of four, with the RF Venue D.A. in-between each group. With the D.A.s powering the receivers, we could turn the entire system on or off with a power conditioner, using one switch. Altogether, this setup is great for our volunteers to use.
Directly to the left of the receiver rack, we had room to place eight dual-charging bays. The body-packs are now always charged up, and it is easy to monitor all of the equipment. Again, this is great for our volunteers to manage everything at a glance, with no worries about changing out batteries between performances.
Since installing the new wireless systems, what differences have you noticed in performance audio?
Our audio has been clearer, more balanced, easier to mix, and much more consistent. The packs are largely intuitive for our volunteers’ use, and the backup channels for interference have prevented the mics from cutting out from day one to today. In the past, when we used regular alkaline batteries, we needed to change them every evening, even during tech week. Weathervane’s past battery usage was outstanding. Now, we have been able to run two productions with two rechargeable batteries for each pack. The life of the battery is estimated to be at least two years, which will save us thousands of dollars and have a much smaller footprint on our environment.
What upcoming shows does the Weathervane Playhouse have planned?
In the current season, we have two large musicals coming up: Dreamgirls and Mamma Mia. These productions will perform to two of our largest audiences all year. We are looking forward to five musicals in our as yet to be announced 2019/2020 Season.
How can fans get involved or make a donation to the theater?
To volunteer with us as a designer, performer — front-of-house or backstage, visit our website at www.weathervaneplayhouse.com/1volunteer. Donations can be made on our website here: http://www.weathervaneplayhouse.com/donateor give us a call at 330.836.2626. Hope to see you here!