The Old Town Temecula Community Theatre in California is a study in contrasts, both inside and out. On the outside, new construction blends with the “Old West” feel of Main Street in Old Town Temecula, a meticulously restored, circa 1860s section of the city, complete with hitching posts. As a valuable community resource, the theatre is home to non-stop performances and special events, from professional touring acts to local recitals. The grand opening in early October 2005 featured a concert by Melissa Manchester and provided sponsors and theatre supporters the first glimpse at the new city-funded facility.
Inside, despite the “community” moniker, the 358-seat theatre is a contemporary proscenium facility, complete with a scene shop, multiple green rooms and dressing rooms, a large dance studio, dedicated staff and technical personnel, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. The AV acoustic design was completed by some well-known names in the performing arts and systems integration communities, Veneklasen Associates and senior consultant Jack Shimzu. Audio and video systems were installed by Markus Audio of Sun Valley, CA, lighting systems by LDH, and rigging by ProTech.
The audio system features a Yamaha PM5D digital mixing console at the front of house position. The PA system includes Renkus Heinz model Trap 40/7 speakers arranged in a L-C-R cluster (three cabinets in the center, two each on left and right), dual 8-in. EAW sublow cabinets float above the catwalks, and JBL Control 23/25 distributed systems are in the courtyard and patio areas, all driven by QSC PowerLight series amplifiers. A pair of Yamaha DME64N digital mixing engines, complete with current software and firmware, provide all system processing, EQ, and distribution.
According to Markus Audio’s Gary Hagen, equipment choices were based on maximum system and budget flexibility. “This is technically a ‘community’ theatre designed to function as a live performance theatre, a movie house, and a presentation/awards ceremony area,” he explains. “Temecula is not Los Angeles, so funds had to be used wisely. The PM5D and DME64N were chosen because they delivered extremely high quality, flexibility, and reasonable costs.”
A total of 128 mic and 60 line inputs around the facility—including onstage and in the catwalks—are all loaded into the PM5D, with Yamaha cascade cards bringing 32 channels out of the console and into the DME64N units, which in turn, run the L-R-C clusters, subwoofers, paging, and background zones. A back of house paging system (separate from the 2-channel ClearCom production paging system) is also routed through the DME, while the WAV player function triggers the house chimes.
The DME64Ns are programmed with presets for Live, Presentation and Cinema mode, providing preset EQ and specific mic/line inputs, making it very simple for both professional and volunteer system operators. “What’s great about Cinema Mode,” says Hagen, “is that it calls up a cinema EQ curve, which not only makes the system true L-C-R, but also activates two specific monitor inputs up in the catwalks on the far house left and right, so you’ve got instant surround sound. We have the convenience of carrying a few speakers up into the catwalk, plugging them in and converting the theatre into a 5.1 surround movie house. We have 64 analog inputs and outputs, plus 32 digital ins and outs, with 128 ultimate patch point locations. So for a 300-plus seat local theatre, it’s a pretty massive system.”
Hagen also notes that, despite being well-versed on using DSP processors in applications ranging from corporate to retail to theme parks, this was Markus’ first installation using the DME24N. “I was impressed with the short time it took to get it up and running,” he says. "It was very easy to program, and one of the most silent systems we have ever heard.”
According to theatre manager Bruce Beers, the Temecula system is divided into a “front of house/back of house” configuration, allowing the operator to adjust and send different feeds from the PM5D. And while there is no official house monitor system, stage mixes can be run through the front of house PM5D, or a guest console can be brought in accessed via the 78-channel isolated transformer split, located at stage left.
“The original console specified was an analog board, says Beers, “and it was slated to go behind glass. I not only wanted it out in the house, but also wanted something with a smaller footprint. With the PM5D, we’re only displacing seven seats in the auditorium—which the accountants and promoters love—and were able to eliminate a lot of the peripheral gear. About eighty percent of the signal processing is derived from the PM5D, with the exception of a single a TC Electronic X1 reverb. Our house audio engineer learned to use it quickly and is now able to educate others on its operation, and what’s more, we’ve been able to attract more professional acts with the console specified on their show rider.”
The theatre’s stage is 35' from the front to back wall, with a 36' opening. Additional acoustical treatment includes an “added proscenium” over the audience chamber, with reflective elements of rounded wood hung underneath (a design repeated on the boxes and balconies), while the back wall of the room is comprised of absorptive material. Movable curtains above the added proscenium and on the side walls behind the boxes can be open or shut, depending on the event. The stage flyrail has 32 line sets, with four of those dedicated for electrics.
An ETC lighting system includes an Obsession console and stationary fixtures equipped with color changers. Future upgrades include adding moving lighting fixtures, and, while there is no dedicated wiring, the house has an infrastructure in place for remote recording capabilities.
One of the more interesting construction challenges included a rather compressed time schedule, thanks to more than 50 days lost due to exceptionally rainy weather and the worst winter season for Southern California in years, so rainy, in fact, that the orchestra pit had to be pumped out several times. Nevertheless, Hagen notes that AV systems’ installation was completed in just over two months, from wire pulls to system commissioning.
"Jack [Shimizu]’s design was incredible, and more than fit the bill,” he says. “From an installation standpoint, making the systems all look clean was the main challenge. It is a limited space, and these are fairly large items. We are very proud of the way it looks and sounds—lots of horsepower, excellent coverage, and sound that doesn’t overpower the space. We did a good job in making sure that the technology was ‘invisible’ and that the space allows the community to benefit, rather than be scared off, by that technology.”