The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, which for more than 60 years has presented theater performances as well as wide-ranging programming in garnering multiple Tony Awards, recently implemented a new campus-wide communication platform utilizing Clear-Com Arcadia Central Station, FreeSpeak Edge, and FreeSpeak II wireless intercom systems.
Following a large capital-raising campaign, the playhouse just opened a new building in March. “It was a total campus renovation,” explains A/V supervisor Aaron Stephenson. “It was a big investment for the build, but also [for] the technology needed to make it functional.”
He explains that the large, non0profit theater frequently aspires to transition shows to Broadway, and has won a Tony Award for a show they successfully transitioned to New York. Because of this, they needed a backstage communication system that could handle very different needs for productions ranging from dramas, jukebox musicals and farces to big Broadway shows with a 26-person cast and 20-person orchestra.
“We need to be able to facilitate communication between all of those,” Stephenson says. “And we often have specific channels where you have one team talking about one thing and another team talking about another thing, so we can work efficiently to get these shows up and running to make great theater.”
Ultimately, the playhouse installed Arcadia because it could handle all the comm needs in the 537-seat Moe and Jack’s Place – The Rouse Theater, as well as the 172-seat Rosenthal Shelterhouse Theatre. “Arcadia combined all the functionality we required in one device,” he notes. “No matter what we need, we can facilitate it in both spaces, which none of us expected we’d be able to do with one base station. So it has exceeded our expectations.”
Arcadia was up and running when staff got into the new building in February 2023. “Even though we had minimal training on the system, when we set it up, it worked on the first try, which is rare. Right off the bat, the cross-platform functionality – using all these different Clear-Com technologies together and being able to communicate between them – was tremendous.”
The system consists of FreeSpeak Edge, FreeSpeak II and a previously-used analog 4-channel wired system – all of which are run simultaneously through Arcadia, allowing for communicating between digital and analog, wired and wireless, comms. “We can also create custom groups/channels that we can change to meet the distinct needs of tech rehearsals, previews, and production, which serves us very well,” Stephenson adds.
“We’ve been devoted Clear-Com acolytes for years,” he concludes. “Moving to Arcadia, FreeSpeak Edge, and FreeSpeak II offers substantial benefits in meeting the Playhouse’s unique comms needs.”