With a history spanning greater than 47 years, Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre (YPT) is the largest Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) company in Canada and a significant institution in the Canadian professional theatre community. In addition to being a producer and presenter of theatre, YPT is also home to a year-round Drama School and education programs for youth.
When it came time to invest in updating wireless microphone technology, the theatre wanted to start “small” due to budget constraints. After examining all the available options, Digital Hybrid Wireless technology from Rio Rancho, NM-based Lectrosonics was selected—in part to the modular, or expandable, design of the company’s wireless equipment.
Jeff Cummings is the production manager at the Young People’s Theatre. In addition to overseeing all company productions, he is also responsible for facility management, equipment procurement, and heads the organization’s rental operation. He discussed their reasons for selecting Lectrosonics wireless technology and how their initial investment has grown from a modest start into a 12-channel system consisting of LMa transmitters and Venue receiver mainframes.
“In the fall of 2010,” Cummings said, “we made our first Lectrosonics wireless purchase with a 2-channel system consisting of two LMa Digital Hybrid Wireless beltpack transmitters and a VRMWB Venue Series receiver mainframe stocked with two VRT receiver modules. Just recently, we were very fortunate to receive a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and this enabled us to expand the system to a total of twelve channels. We also have four Lectrosonics SNA 600 dipole antennas to ensure strong, trouble-free reception.”
“Our present setup consists of twelve LMa backpack transmitters and a total of three Venue receiver mainframes,” Cummings said. “We have two Venue receiver systems in our 460-seat Mainstage Theatre and the third Venue resides in the 115-seat Studio Theatre. The Venue systems in the Mainstage Theatre are populated with a total of ten channels, while the remaining two channels are housed in the Studio Theatre. But what makes the Lectrosonics Venue system so exceptional is its modular design. This approach enables us to add more channels by simply moving some Mainstage VRT modules to the Venue mainframe in the Studio system should we need it, or go to a full 12-channel setup for those larger productions in the Mainstage Theatre. Lectrosonics’ modular design provides us with tremendous flexibility to accommodate a wide range of wireless setups.”
While the Young People’s Theatre will first use its newly-expanded wireless microphone system in its upcoming production of the play Cinderella (a RATical retelling), Cummings reflected on the success they had using the Lectrosonics gear on YPT’s Dora Award winning production of A Year With Frog and Toad.
“The Lectrosonics wireless equipment served us very well on this project,” he said. “The gear’s sound quality is exceptional and its RF agility is very impressive. There’s a lot of radio frequency interference in a city as big as Toronto, so the ease with which we can identify and lock in available frequencies is a huge benefit. When you add in the ability to hide the transmitters so conveniently within the performer’s wardrobe, you have a system that’s unbeatable for theatrical work.
“The more I use the equipment, the more I’m impressed with its capabilities. For our touring projects, the equipment can be moved easily—thanks to the fact that we can load six channels into each Venue receiver mainframe. In addition to the transmitters’ small form factor, the battery life is exceptional, so this reduces our battery consumption. When you combine these factors with Lectrosonics’ thorough and very responsive support, it confirms my belief that we made a solid investment for the theatre.”
Cummings added, “We’re really looking forward to using the full system and enjoying the fact that we no longer have to contend with mismatched gear. We will also be adding the use of a Lectrosonics HM Plug-On transmitter to a handheld mic for one of the characters. The Creative team asked for a period looking mic to have wireless capability and, with our new system, we were easily able to adapt by adding one more piece of equipment to the system. The more we use our Lectrosonics equipment, the more we continue to be impressed with its versatility.”