Following another robust season of box office business, Broadway honored the best in theatre and musicals at the 61st annual Tony Award ceremony, broadcast live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall in New York on June 10th. Each of the telecast's presenters, plus a performance by the cast of Spring Awakening, the night's big musical winner, relied on Sennheiser wireless microphone equipment, supplied by Wireless First and RF technology expert Kevin Sanford.
"The microphone complement for the show was 36 Sennheisers," reports Sanford, whose Wireless First RF systems specialist firm has depended for years on equipment from Sennheiser, which is currently celebrating 50 years of wireless technology innovation. "There were thirty Sennheiser SK 5012 and SK 5212 compact belt-pack transmitters plus half a dozen combinations of SKM 5000 or SKM 5200 handheld transmitters with Neumann KK 105-S heads."
Spring Awakening dominated the night in the musical category, taking home a total of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Director of a Musical, and Best Choreography, with the top honors for Best Original Score and Best Orchestrations going to composer Duncan Sheik. Performing a piece from the show, which is credited with helping to revive interest in Broadway through the use of rock songs in a period setting, the cast utilized twenty Sennheiser SKM 5000 RF microphones with SK 5212 RF belt-packs.
All of the show's presenters, who included Harvey Fierstein, Felicity Huffman, and Usher, were on Sennheiser wireless lavalier microphone setups. "They were either on a lav or at a podium, and all the podiums were wireless," Sanford elaborates. Four Sennheiser Evolution Wireless IEM 300 G2 personal monitor systems were also on hand.
With the proliferation of digital television channels and the proximity of NBC, FOX, and CNN to Radio City Music Hall, New York can be a tough environment for any wireless microphone system. "We had over 100-plus frequencies in use," he says, noting that Rockefeller Center, NBC's headquarters, is just across the street from the theater: "And the doors are open all through rehearsals." But the Sennheiser systems came through with flying colors, according to Sanford: "It was fairly uneventful, which is my kind of show!"
Business along the Great White Way appears as healthy as ever, with 35 productions opening over the past twelve months, including twelve new musicals and eleven new plays. According to the League of American Theatres and Producers, the nonprofit organization that established the Tony Awards in 1947, Broadway box office grosses jumped nearly nine percent to $939 million this year and paid attendance hit a record high of 12.3 million people.
The night's other big winner was UK playwright Tom Stoppard's epic, eight-hour-plus trilogy, The Coast of Utopia, a period piece set in 19th century Russia that garnered seven Tony Awards, the most ever for a non-musical stage play.