In June of 2001, Tropical Storm Allison submerged the 296-seat Neuhaus below more than a dozen feet of floodwaters prompting the Alley to undergo an extensive cleanup and renovation of the room. As part of those efforts, the theatre chose to upgrade the Neuhaus' sound system, which is now being mixed on the fully modular K3 Theatre house desk.
The eight-bus K3 was installed along the 'stage right' side of the theatre in January of 2002. According to Alley Theatre Sound Supervisor Phil Cassidy, the Soundcraft's compact footprint was one of the primary reasons the board was selected. "The Neuhaus is a rather intimate room, so one of the biggest considerations was simply trying to accommodate the limited counter space in the sound booth," he says. "The fact that Soundcraft positioned two groups on each module was quite appealing because that cut down on the frame size just enough to get it to fit in."
"The K3 is extremely well-suited for theatre use and offers numerous appropriate amenities," Cassidy adds. "For example, I really appreciate that the bus buttons light up when engaged - a seemingly trivial feature that becomes significant when control booth lighting has to be kept to a minimum. We've now gone through our first season with the K3 and both of the engineers that run shows on the desk absolutely love it. It's been performing like a champ."
In addition to the Soundcraft console, the theatre also recently added a BSS FCS-960 graphic equalizer, five Crown K2 power amplifiers and a variety of EAW speakers, which are hung from a new overhead pipe grid and accessible via catwalks. Depending on the production, seating in the Neuhaus can be set up on the north and south sides of the room in the theatre's original arena configuration, or the north seating section can be divided and moved to the east and west sides turning the space into a long modified thrust setup.
In the first season with the new system, the Alley's Neuhaus Stage hosted Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Stoppard's The Invention of Love, and the 'garden' portion of Alan Ayckbourn's House and Garden. This season, which begins in October, will bring in a new play by Keith Reddin called Frame 312, based on the JFK/Zapruder film, and Marie Jones' Stones in His Pockets, among other works.