As good as Thunder Bay Theatre's current production of "Cats" has turned out to be with the extremely popular show now being held over for a fifth week, theatre officials know it could be even better with a better sound system in place.
For future productions, that will hopefully come to pass. A fundraising effort is currently underway to help TBT reach the $15,000 goal needed to acquire a new system.
"This amount of funds will allow us to have a sound system that will aid our community actors, especially our younger actors, to better reach our audiences," said TBT board member Dick Bremer, who is heading up the fundraising campaign. "Additionally, our audiences will be able to better distinguish voices from the music. A theatrical sound system needs to link moving actors and the musical source for best audience understanding."
News Photo by Diane Speer
Members of the Banner Realty team stopped by Thunder Bay Theatre earlier this week to drop off a $500 donation to be put toward a new sound system. Shown kneeling, from left, are Jane Fochtman-Smith, Lisa Timm and Filippa Witman. Standing are Robert Sylvester, Jean Obuchowski, Joyce Kaiser, Jan Crawford, Shelly Gibbons, Kurt Haaxma, TBT President Paulette Bremer and Banner Realty owner/broker Margie Haaxma. Cast members on hand for the check presentation were Mariah Purol, Molly Stricker, Courtney Marshall and Dylan Goike.
Since January, audiences attending shows at TBT have been encouraged to give $5 toward the cause. The way theatre officials figure it, if everyone gave just $5, the intended goal could be reached fairly quickly. So far, the plea to audiences is helping.
"We have had hundreds of our patrons donate approximately $3,000 in small amounts," Bremer said.
TBT also has gotten a boost from several larger contributors, including $500 given this week by Banner Realty.
"It's our way of saying thanks to Thunder Bay Theatre for what they are doing for our community," said Banner Realty owner/broker Margie Haaxma. "This also will hopefully inspire others to do the same."
Alpena Rotary Club also responded to the call for a sound system with a recent $350 donation, as did the Spruce Eagles Club with a $200 donation.
According to Bremer, the components of a sound system can be on the expensive side.
"As an example, a 'body mike,' which is attached to an actor for the duration of the performance, is typically $600 to $800 per actor," Bremer said, adding that the most current digital technology can be much more.
TBT's current system is of an unknown vintage and doesn't allow for individual miking. For "Cats," TBT Artistic Dirrector J.R. Rodriguez said the theatre was really fortunate to have speakers purchased and donated by cast member Brian Heldt. The speakers were inserted under two platforms on the stage.
Even so, Rodriguez admits the current system has a tendency to drown out voices whenever music is accompanying them.
"A new system would make the sound fuller and more rich with a mixing board that could mix voices with music so it sounds like one," Rodriguez said. "It would enrich the theatre experience and keep the cast members from forcing their voices so much."
Should a new sound system become a reality, it also would be used to educate members of TBT's Youth Acting Group in the basics of audio system design and operation.
Anyone wanting to donate to the cause can do so by stopping at the theatre office or by going to the TBT website at thunderbaytheatre.com. For more information about the fund drive, call 354-2267.