Penn & Teller At The Rio In Vegas: The “Bad Boys” Of Magic Get An RF Makeover

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By Mark Frink May 21, 2010

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Penn & Teller have performed their unique blend of comedy and illusion for 35 years, combining Teller’s silent magic with Penn Jillette’s storytelling and juggling expertise.

Their controversial Showtime television series “Bullsh*t!” tackles frauds, fakes and urban myths, and starts its eighth season next month.

They’re also a highly successful Las Vegas resident show, appearing for the past eight years at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

Originally called the Samba Theater, the Penn & Teller Theater is a typical proscenium venue, with a balcony and a capacity of about 1,500.

It hosted Danny Gans for four years, followed by 30th anniversary shows for The Price Is Right before the dynamic duo arrived in 2002.

The finals of the World Series of Poker, which the Rio also hosts, are held on its stage.

The main sound reinforcement system, originally installed by Ford Audio-Visual in the 1990s, incorporates Renkus-Heinz 3-way CT9 Series loudspeakers offering a horn-loaded 15-inch and Co-Entrant mid/high horn with dual 10-inch.

They’re positioned in a traditional left-center-right configuration, hung as 2-over-2 left and right, plus a 2-over-3 center cluster.

The system is powered by 30 Crest Audio CKS1200 amplifiers. Six more CKS 800 amplifiers power Renkus- Heinz SR61 2-way under-balcony fills, with a couple of CKV 200 amps for the lobby’s 70-volt loudspeakers.

Also in the basement equipment room are a half-dozen BSS Soundweb 9088 processors for the various zones, with three Klark Teknik DN800 processors for the main arrays.

Penn and Teller Sound Engineer Wayne Willard at his Yamaha PM5D-RH digital console.

Three pairs of Meyer Sound CQ-2 narrow coverage (50-degree horizontal) loudspeakers are flown off-stage as side fills between the curtain legs.

Re-Engineering Challenge
Wayne Willard mixes the show on a Yamaha PM5D digital console, with the majority of sound effects operated from a main (and backup) 360 Systems Instant Replay on his right.

Sony (formerly Sonic Foundry) Sound Forge software is used for one portion of the act that has him recording, editing and playing back a sample a few minutes later.

Willard became a member of IATSE Local 20 in 1984 after working for Southern Thunder Sound and various other Twin Cities regional sound companies.

He also spent a half dozen years with the third national road show of “Phantom” followed by a couple of years traveling with “Mama Mia!” and then staying with it for two more years when it settled in at Mandalay Bay. He’s been with Penn & Teller since 2007, and is also Projects Coordinator for MGM’s Entertainment Projects.

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About Mark

Mark Frink
Mark Frink

Independent Sound Engineer
Mark Frink is an independent engineer who has mixed monitors for a few singers. He is engineer and Host at the AES Convention Live Sound Expo.


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