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Amplifying Rita Moreno

posted by Karen McKevitt on Thu, Sep 29, 2011
in From the booth , Our shows

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By Elliott Ares, sound fellow

Many elements go into the sound design for Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup, but one element in particular is essential: vocal amplification. Wireless microphones are utilized so that the audience can hear the actors over the sound effects and live music.


These two RF (radio frequency) mics are assigned to each dancer, Ray Garcia and Salvatore Vassallo. The flesh-colored cable at the top left of the image is the lavalier.

The lavalier sucks up sound and puts it into the body pack transmitter. We painted some of the lavalier cables black to blend in with Ray and Salvatore's hair.


Next, we assign each mic a strong frequency that is free from conflicting signals within the local area. The sound is then sent out of the transmitter through the antennae to the receivers at the mixing station in back of the house, eventually making its way to the many speakers in the Roda Theatre and monitors on the stage (for the actors and musicians to hear).  

For every performance, new batteries are put into each transmitter, and the mics are thoroughly checked by the sound mixer. To prevent sweat or other fluids/particles from damaging the transmitters, nonlubricated condoms are wrapped around them.


Ms. Moreno has two mics assigned to her each night. In case one fails during a performance, we already have a spare up and running. Her lavaliers are joined together near the ends with hairpins and an elastic tie. 


Both of her mics are then placed into small pouches that can slide onto an elastic strap or be placed into pockets specially rigged into a costume piece.


Ray and Salvatore's mics are placed into a similar pouch and slide onto a torso strap.


The lavalier travels up the back, through the hair and rests on the forehead.  It is secured at the neck and forehead using transpore medical tape.


I hope this provided an interesting inside look at what the audience (hopefully) never sees!  













I wanna show my mic guy at my school this method. I've done it before but my school theatre hasn't and I feel like it's the perfect method for longer hair

Dustin Behr | Tue, Jan 7, 2014

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