SAN DIEGO, CA – La Jolla Playhouse at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) does double-duty with its five venues: they serve students as well as professional productions. To supplement its purchased stock of DPA d:dicate mics, the university often rents additional DPA gear, turning to sound designer Eric Stahlhammer, owner of Greater Than Designs.
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Performance Venue at the University of California at San Diego Relies on DPA d:dicate Recording Microphones for Variety of Productions
Responsible for staging everything from student plays to comedy troupes to Broadway-level productions, La Jolla Playhouse is regarded as one of the country’s top theaters. Together with the Globe Theater in San Diego, La Jolla has a reputation for sending more shows to Broadway than all other theaters in the country combined. This high level of exposure means that La Jolla Playhouse must make sure its venues and technologies are kept to the highest standards of performance.
“We premiere a lot of new productions, which requires us to be flexible in our sound and video area because with works in progress things can change every day,” says Joe Huppert, sound and video supervisor for La Jolla Playhouse and the UCSD department for theater and dance. “In these situations, we also work directly with Broadway sound designers who have set ways of doing things, and they always expect us to have DPA Microphones. Our largest venue is just 600 seats, so we look for a realistic, somewhat intimate, sound reinforcement environment where we need high-quality sound rather than high levels of sound. All of the DPA mics that I’ve encountered have filled these needs.”
Primarily used on instruments and as foot mics, DPA Microphones is a regular part of the La Jolla rotation. The theater also recently embedded its 2011C mics in various areas of the stage for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for which the actors climbed around the set, and one was even suspended upside down, six feet above the stage. In this production, the sound team was able to pick up the audio for all of the performers.
In addition to hosting professional productions, La Jolla Playhouse’s five theaters also are home to a variety of student-run shows and university events. Supported by the venue’s professional carpenters, electricians and sound technicians, the students are mentored on what audio equipment will work best for their production. They ultimately take this gear and implement it on the stage.
“Since UCSD’s students use our sound equipment, it is very important that it always works well,” explains Huppert. “We’ve used some other brands as foot mics, but we found them to be much more difficult to EQ and get a good sound. When we throw in a really good mic, like DPA, it makes it easier for us to teach our students how to get a good production.”
The theater also occasionally rents DPA’s 4021 Compact Cardioid Microphones to use in addition to the 2011Cs as foot mics for its high-end performances, such as the Second City Comedy Troupe that often performs at the school. At these times, Huppert calls on the theater’s sound designer, Eric Stahlhammer, owner of Greater Sound Designs, to specify the gear.
“The DPA mics are just way better in terms of flatter response, full coverage and off-axis response,” says Stahlhammer of the 4021s and 2011s. “We didn’t have an issue with feedback and what was going into the microphone was clean from the PA. Joe [Huppert] was in need of a small shotgun foot mic for Second City, and we both had good luck when we tested the 4021. We ultimately selected the 2011C because we saw it as an interesting option that was great for this application because of its tighter pattern. DPA has an incredible reputation for producing top of the line, world class stuff and when we saw this microphone, we knew it was a good option.”
The next show that will feature the DPA mics is the theater’s summer production of Sideways the Play, which opens July 21 and is performed by the Ruskin Group Theatre Company. Adapted by Rex Pickett from his own novel, Sideways is the comedic story of two friends, Miles and Jack, and their epic journey across the Santa Ynez wine country before Jack gets married. For this production, Huppert is using the DPA mics in a close-quarters trap position.
A theater with a long, storied history, the current incarnation of La Jolla Playhouse has been around for more than 30 years. It consists of five theater buildings, which seat anywhere from 50 to 600 guests. The University California, San Diego is one of the world’s leading public research universities.