Posted by Bruce Miller
Owning the historic Empire Theatre, which will celebrate its Centennial (100th Birthday) this coming Christmas Day, is a privilege and a blessing--an expensive privilege and blessing. We've been raising funds quietly over the last several years to make home improvements to the only performance facility we own outright. Both Willow Lawn and Hanover Tavern are rented spaces--but even there, we pay for all the light and sound equipment.
In April of 2008 we replaced our old analog sound board with a new 40-channel, digital Yamaha LS9-32, and immediately heard our sound quality improve. Cost - $9,000.
In March of 2009 we replaced a dozen 15-year-old house mics and six tour mics (all wireless) due to the national DTV transition that rendered all our old frequencies useless. Our new mics are Sennheiser Evolution 100s, with a price tag of $18 K.
In June of 2009 we spent an additional $9 K (K means thousand for those who don't recognize the abbreviation) to replace an additional 18 tour wireless mics with new Sennheiser Evolution 300s.
In October of 2009 we replaced two handheld mics (originally purchased for a long ago production of Beehive) with Sennheiser Evolution 300s - another $1,400.
In the spring of 2010, we purchased a new Meyer MM-4 Frontfill Speaker System Amplifier, Processor for right around $2,200.
And yesterday we installed and tweaked a new Nexo Geo S8 Tangeant Line Array as our central cluster, including nine boxes, an amp and a processor. Total cost for this week's purchase--$22,000. The new speakers add stunning clarity and cover all our seating areas, including our hard-to-reach Governor's Box (available on command for all of Virginia Governors and Lieutenant Governors, current or past) and our Congressional Box (available on command for our Virginia and U. S. legislators).
We think you'll notice and appreciate the difference when you join us for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels this summer! The magnificent Empire truly benefits from being Central Virginia's only theatre built for the human voice before the age of sound amplification. Nonetheless, the new speakers help to make every word and note crystal clear.
In addition, we recently spent $22 thousand on lighting upgrades, with another $100 thousand needed and coming soon. More about that later.
All of this equipment, with the exception of the Meyer speakers, was purchased locally (Backstage Inc.), and all installation was performed by local professional labor (mostly our resident staff), significantly benefiting the Greater Richmond economy.
Special thanks to our old pal, Fred Brumbach, formerly of Backstage Inc., currently of On Stage Gear, for his invaluable consultation. And, of course, extra special thanks to our irreplaceable Tech Director, Bruce Rennie, and our exemplary Sound Manager, Derek Dumais, for working together to make all of this happen.