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Gordon Craig Theatre

Opened in 1975, the Hertfordshire facility hosts a varied programme of live entertainment within its two venues. The 501-capacity theatre and the 1200-seat Main Hall offer a range of popular music, drama, opera, dance and orchestral productions throughout the year, with acts as diverse as Jimmy Carr, Jethro, Jim Davidson, Dionne Warwick and Lesley Garrett. Among much else, their spring 2013 programme includes a sold out production of ‘That’ll Be The Day’, a Pink Floyd tribute, ‘Hormonal Housewives’ starring Toyah Wilcox and a fundraising event for the Princes Trust.

Prompted by the requirements of the new Ofcom Digital Switchover, the theatre specifically required frequency planning advice. They wanted their new systems to work on the channels 41 and 44 so Channel 38 was kept clear for incoming tours.

Being a receiving house, we have many tours come through on Channel 38 so we were quite specific in our frequency ranges

This expertise, acquired both through their own projects and via the vast numbers of systems operated throughout the West End by their sister company, was a key factor in the choice of Sennheiser Evolution-series units for this project. Sales Engineer Peppe Mallozzi said, ‘The theatre had very specific frequency-planning requirements and our ability to provide this service was essential to delivering a reliable solution to our client. Being able to verify the design with our in-house RF engineer gave the client an extra level of comfort from a technical viewpoint’.

Nigel Howlett, Productions and Technical Manager said, ‘The Ofcom band changes forced us to replace our existing wireless systems, Sennheiser equipment that was purchased over 15 years ago. We had to find a robust system that would last at least as long and which could sit alongside our other radio mic systems. I knew this was going to be a major investment for the sound department and a big part of the theatre’s technical budget for this year, so I needed to find quality, user-friendly equipment that was priced realistically for a provincial theatre’.

‘The project actually started more than three years ago with enquires to find out how the changes would affect us, our existing equipment and the service the department delivers if we chose not to replace our existing systems. The conclusion was that we had to replace and update our equipment to maintain the level of service we deliver to the theatre, so I headed to ABTT and PLASA to see the potential replacements and talk to the suppliers about our requirements’.

He continued, ‘Having talked to the usual suppliers, I opted for Autograph. Why? It was largely the way that the sales person on the stand listened to what I wanted and was able to assist with my general questions. They also answered the technical questions relating to the different products and that showed me that Autograph had spent time and effort training that person in the products they were selling. That gave me, as the customer, confidence in spending my budget with the company’.

We put a bit of pressure on the Autograph team as we finally agreed the order just before the theatre’s summer production. Autograph came through for us despite the short lead time.

‘We put a bit of pressure on to the Autograph team as we finally agreed the order just before the theatre’s summer production run for which we really wanted the new systems. Autograph came through for us despite the short lead time, even to the extent that Peppe, who had worked alongside Dave sorting out the order, delivered all the new kit in person - now that is customer service!’.

He concluded. ‘The theatre has now used the equipment extensively over the last year and the feedback from the crew is all positive, which is good to hear. The faith we placed in Autograph was completely justified and I would not hesitate to contact Autograph again’.

Head Of Sound Dave Nott said, ‘Dealing with Autograph was easy from start to finish as Peppe made sure he kept in contact every few days to update me on the progress of our order. Being a receiving house, we have many tours come through on Channel 38 so we were quite specific in our frequency ranges to avoid any interference with incoming kit’.

‘Our original specification meant there were some initial issues with intermodding, however this was spotted by Autograph’s tech support team and the suggestion of moving to two different Site Specific channels solved all these issues. After-sales care has been second to none, Peppe makes regular contact with us to see how things are going. We run 30 channels of radio mics with these new systems, with no issues whatsoever’.

Gordon Craig Theatre

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