San Antonio, TX – November 2011… The ability to project the talent's voice is a critical consideration for any theatrical endeavor. Without clearly intelligible speech and vocal reproduction, there really isn't much of a show! This is precisely why the San Pedro Playhouse—delivering stage productions for the past 85 years to the people of San Antonio from its location in San Pedro Park—relies on microphones from Menlo Park, CA-based Countryman Associates.
For the past 8+ years, Paul Garza has been the Technical Director at the San Pedro Playhouse, tasked with the responsibility of overseeing all set construction and installation, lighting, sound, props, special effects, and crew training and management. Based on his experiences over those years, Garza reports being a true believer in the performance attributes of Countryman miniature microphones—particularly the theatre's thirty-six B3 Omni Round Lavaliere and the E6 Omni Earset models. He discussed his reasons for selecting Countryman microphones.
“As we mostly produce musicals,” Garza explained, “we require microphones that deliver great sound quality and solid reliability. When an actor spends time in a costume under the hot lights, perspiration is a common issue that inhibits the effectiveness of many miniature microphones. Similarly, costume changes tend to be hard on the equipment, because the mics frequently experience rough handling in the performer's haste to be ready for the next scene. The Countryman B3 is our house favorite because it is highly resistant to moisture and when you consider these mics are frequently dropped and yanked by the mic cord in the process of changing costumes, their durability is really impressive.”
“I'm very fond of the B3's sound quality,” Garza continued. “The sound is very clear and natural and the mic's ability to achieve good volume levels makes it a great choice for theatrical use. The B3 is a terrific theatrical mic because it can be positioned just about anywhere—making it all but impossible to even notice the microphone. It easily hides among the costumes and can be just as effective when hidden in the hair or a wig.”
The San Pedro Playhouse's current theatrical offering is the musical comedy Xanadu. “We're using nine B3's for this production,” Garza reports. “In addition to having several performers on roller skates, there are a lot of quick costume changes and a lot of perspiration to contend with. Through it all, our B3's have been terrific. In our previous production, The King and I, the stage musical by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, we used twenty-eight Countryman B3's and, as usual, they did a great job for us.”
Microphone placement is among the toughest audio considerations that Garza routinely deals with and, once again, this challenge came to the surface in the production of Xanadu. “Not all performers project as well as I'd like,” Garza acknowledged, “so positioning the mic in close enough proximity to their mouth can be a real challenge—particularly if you're looking to keep that mic hidden. Countryman makes the B3 available in a variety of colors, so we always try to match the mic's color with the performer's skin tone or costume. The B3 is very discreet and it provides solid gain before feedback – enabling us to achieve the volume levels we need most of the time.”
“There are times, however, when an earset microphone simply makes a better choice,” Garza elaborated. “For such occasions, we use the Countryman E6. The E6 is a great choice for discreet miking while being able to move the microphone element closer to the performer's mouth. Sometimes the decision to use the E6 is a wardrobe consideration, other times it's to compensate for a performer who simply doesn't project as well as we'd like. This coming Holiday season, we'll be staging A Christmas Carol – The Musical, which starts December 2nd. The role of Timothy—a child actor—will be handled with the E6 so that we can achieve adequate gain to match the adult performers.”
In summarizing his experience with Countryman microphones, Garza offered the following, “Miking is an art form. It requires both a technical understanding and a willingness to experiment with placement. With that said, our Countryman mics deliver terrific audio quality and solid reliability and the company's customer service and support is first-rate. This is precisely why we're presently looking to expand and improve our microphone capabilities and, as a result, are about to start evaluating a number of additional Countryman products. For us, Countryman is a trusted business partner.”
To learn more about the San Pedro Playhouse, visit them online at www.sanpedroplayhouse.com.
About Countryman Associates
For more than 30 years, Countryman has focused on developing microphones and accessories that deliver maximum gain before feedback, with the highest possible rejection of wind, vibration, interference, and other unwanted sounds. The result is warm, clear vocals in speaking and singing applications, delivering natural audio reinforcement that requires almost no attention from the sound engineer or the performer. For additional information about Countryman Associates, visit the company online at www.countryman.com.
Photo Info: A scene from the San Pedro Playhouse's production of Xanadu.