Historic Tapia Teatro Receives McCauley Installation
Technicaribe Installs IN.LINE in Old San Juan Landmark
"From now on my first choice is McCauley. Other systems might sound good, but are always more expensive and not as durable."
“It has been a mission!” exclaimed Project Manager Danny Ortiz after he updated the Teatro Tapia’s old sound system with a new system designed around the McCauley IN.LINE installation line array.
When Ortiz arrived at the theatre, his biggest challenge was to improve the sound quality in the auditorium, while at the same time, ensuring that the integrity of the architecture would be maintained. The Teatro Tapia is likely the oldest free-standing drama stage building in continuous use in the United States.
Designated as a World Heritage Site in 1983, Old San Juan spans just seven square city blocks and offers an authentic colonial experience. There are more than 400 carefully restored 16th and 17th-century Spanish colonial buildings. The combination of the restored pastel-colored houses and commercial buildings and blue-tinted cobblestone streets has created a charming mixed residential and business district and the city’s patrons are passionate about maintaining the historic look and feel.
Because of its location right in the middle of Old San Juan, it was the center of cultural life in the city since its‘ construction in the early 19th century. With a capacity to hold 700 people, Teatro Tapia was designed in the Italian style as a horseshoe-shaped opera house with three tiers of boxes. The elegant and intimate theatre has served as the scene for live entertainment such as musicals, Broadway plays, drama, historical Puerto Rican plays, enchanting ballet performances, other cultural events and as an ideal spot for meetings and presentations. It has hosted international theatre festivals and children’s theatre festivals. The famous soprano, Adelina Patti, sang there as a teenager in one of her earliest tours of the Americas during the mid-nineteenth century.
However, during the 1940’s, after some years of neglect so severe that demolition was even considered, the then Mayor of San Juan pushed to save the theater. It was restored in the late forties and since then has been used continuously since. The auditorium is remarkable for the period copies of wood chairs and its three tiers of boxes. Recent restorations (in 1976 and 1997) returned the theatre to its original appearance and gracious old charm. This time, the refurbishment would include a modernized audio system built around the McCauley IN.LINE line array product, as wells as updating the stage, the floor, the lobby and ticket booth, as well as installing a communication-intercom system.
Technicaribe partnered with McCauley Sound’s engineering group, and with help from McCauley Sound’s local representative Albizu Garcia, they finalized their design in late summer of 2006. The plan included the installation of three stacked clusters of the in-lines, right, left and center. Each of the three clusters includes four N120’s, two N90’s and two NS1’s. The center cluster is behind a grill so it cannot be seen, in keeping with the aesthetics of the original architecture. This was the most difficult aspect of the installation due to the very small area in which Ortiz had to work. Because of this, he considered the installation to be more than just a job, but a labor of love.
While the center cluster is hidden from the audience, the left and right clusters are installed so they can be raised and lowered, or removed, with an electric motor, depending on the needs of the particular performance. The result is a semi-permanent installation on the two sides of the theatre. This allows the space to adapt to live musical performance events easily, while still being able to scale back and preserve its’ historical look and feel for theater events. The main concern was to maintain the original architecture and materials, and Technicaribe was able to manage that by keeping some of the array elements out of view.
On stage the house has up to six of the SM12-1 stage monitors for live performance fold back and two SA15-2’s live on either side of the stage as sidefills. Technicaribe opted to process the entire rig using two McCauley MCS3.6 DSPs
Ortiz commented that McCauley Sound provided great support, as McCauley engineering support group analyzed and helped him revise the coverage patterns to his specifications. Even with the three tiers and the rounded U-shaped design of the seating area, Ortiz was happy to announce “the sound is wonderful”. The theatre ownership is very satisfied with the unobtrusive look of the installation and with the sound.
Ortiz has been involved in sound systems, his expertise, since 1984. He says that he had been using other brands but began hearing about McCauley in about 2002 and started searching for information on their products. Two years ago he met McCauley Sales Manager Jason Farris and McCauley Sales Rep Albizu Garcia in Orlando. After working with McCauley speakers since, he reports “From now on my first choice is McCauley. Other systems might sound as good, but are always too expensive.” The size is excellent and not too bulky. He says he can give architect alternatives even in regard to color, as the systems can be customized for any situation and location. Ortiz doesn’t want any complaints down the road and with McCauley systems, he has not had any. Inspectors, contractors and the customers have all been very pleased. He reiterates “Their product is great; the support we get is the best. I cannot tell you anything bad about them.”