Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) belongs to the premier youth theatres in the country. They’ve touched the lives of thousands of young actors along the way, including future and past Academy Award nominees, Broadway actors, and professional recording artists.
From his earliest days with VYT, the theater’s Artistic Director Bobb Cooper recognized that a key part of elevating the company’s work was providing technology befitting their vision. One of VYT’s alumni is Jack Karlen of Clearwing Systems Integration who participated in VYT productions as a teenager and has stayed involved with the theatre as an adult volunteer. He pointed out that some of Cooper’s wireless transmitters would soon fall out of FCC compliance due to the 600 MHz band transition. “I happened to be glancing at some of the gear in their rack and gave Bobb a heads-up that they would need to address these compliance issues,” he says. This was the reason to update the system.
Cooper and Karlen saw an opportunity to design a new wireless system for VYT that would meet the theatre’s needs for years to come. After briefly reviewing a range of wireless options, they quickly decided on Sennheiser‘s Digital 6000 wireless system. “Our standards are very high in the work that we produce and the gear that we use,” says Cooper. “We really liked what Sennheiser Digital 6000 was offering feature-wise. It checked all the boxes.” After application and receiving the system, that includes includes 50 SK 6212 bodypacks, Karlen began work on specifying a Digital 6000 system that would match the VYT’s vision. He specified 48 channels of Digital 6000 for VYT, feeling confident that its feature set would accommodate the full range of the company’s productions. “There were some unique parameters we had to consider.”
“Unlike some other youth theaters, we don’t have kids playing multiple parts in our large-cast shows, so we absolutely utilize all 48 channels of wireless and need enough bodypacks to support that,” says Cooper. At 112 grams, their compact size makes them a comfortable wear for performers of all ages and sizes. 12 hours of battery life and sweat and moisture resistance ensure the SK 6212 can stand up to the rigors of VYT’s productions without falter. Karlen pointed out that the Digital 6000 is powerful enough to perform in the 730-seat Herberger Theater Center, so then it is also compact enough to fit into the available rack space at VYT’s smaller 202-seat theatre. Moreover the VYT have been using the Digital 6000 system for hosting live streaming events such as the 9.5 hour “VYTal Affair-athon” in August of 2020.
“A key goal in redesigning VYT’s wireless was specifying a system that would be as future-proof as possible, so Dante integration was key,” Karlen says. For Cooper, the crystal clear sound and reliable performance of the Digital 6000 help their productions attain a higher standard than ever before. “There’s an expectation that when you come to see VYT production you’re going to experience something top notch,” he says. “That’s not something you can achieve alone, and Sennheiser and the Digital 6000 are an important piece of the puzzle."
Bobb Cooper explains that their mission is to inspire young people to be the best that they can be through a wide variety of performing arts opportunities. “Bobb has been a great mentor for so many kids in this valley, whether they go into professional theatre or take other career paths,” Karlen says. “What they do at VYT is outstanding, and they deserve technology that matches that excellence. With Digital 6000, they easily have the best RF setup of any youth theatre in the country.