Chicago, IL (June 14, 2018)—Chicago Lyric Opera recently staged Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1970s rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, for a four-week run. Bringing the 2016 London revival to North America, Nick Lidster, sound designer from the UK production, worked with senior sound engineer Peter Wiejaczka of OSA International on the sizable project, opting to use Shure Axient Digital as the primary wireless system for the production’s 74 wireless microphone channels.
For Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric Opera used a total of 56 channels of Axient Digital, plus 18 channels of UHF-R. All but eight transmitters were bodypacks. Shure provided 12 beta-test production units of its new ADX1M Micro-Bodypack transmitters for the show.
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Stephanie Farina, a Chicago-based theater tech who worked in the A2 role on the production, remarked, “The system being digital is a big help, because you can fit more frequencies together without intermod. We did need to do a little work with creative antenna placements to get full coverage with a steel set in such a large space, but once we did, we used Wireless Workbench software together with some old school methods and ended up with a solid frequency plan, including 16 backup frequencies. Not bad for downtown Chicago.”
Farina was also responsible for miking the performers: “With no external antenna, I was a little skeptical of the ADX packs at first, but they worked flawlessly for us. I love that the mic connector is recessed. Because of how small and sleek they are, with rounded corners; it makes my life easier with costume and wardrobe, and the actors love them.”
Nick Lidster offered, “With the Axient Digital micro-pack on the lead performers and standard AD1 packs for the rest of the main ensemble, plus eight handhelds, we have 54 simultaneous microphone channels running. It’s been clean as a whistle from the time we pushed up the faders on the first day, so I’ve been very pleased.”
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The new Axient Digital AD610 Access Point was also deployed, enabling the system’s ShowLink remote management system for the ADX1M Micro-Bodypacks, allowing the sound engineer to monitor and change all transmitter functions remotely, in real time.
“Working in association with Shure and OSA International on this particular show has been invaluable,” said Lidster. “Jesus Christ Superstar requires a rock and roll aesthetic, and we had to bring a lot of technology into a very traditional opera venue to make that happen. With Axient Digital, I feel as though Shure is actually listening to theater sound designers and turning up with products that are actually intended for our specific needs.”
In the wake of the production, Chicago Lyric Opera will add 48 channels of Axient Digital receivers with ADX transmitters, ShowLink Access Points, and Shure rechargeable batteries with rackmount charging stations to its permanent sound system.
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