Beautifying Napa's Uptown Theatre

Mar 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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photo of John Breglia

John Breglia at the Avid VENUE

Acoustically, numerous treatments and traps have been employed to control low end in the 863-seat space, including eight 10x14-foot rigid Fiberglas panels (four per side), varying in thickness from 6 to 20 inches, that are hidden behind acoustically transparent curtains.

“Those aren’t tuning panels as much as they are traps,” Breglia explains. “Also, there was a proscenium built. That wasn’t in the original space, of course, because it was a movie theater. But we added a proscenium so that we have side wings now, and there’s a transition walkway behind the stage. And behind the proscenium, there’s sound baffling up into the ceiling—a combination of loose and rigid Fiberglas paneling installed in the ceiling area.

photo of Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck in performance at the Uptown Theatre

“And one of our big benefits is we’ve got dirt under our floors,” Breglia adds. “No rock, no concrete, just good old Napa dirt, and it actually does a lot to reinforce the low end. Our subs sit underneath the thrust of the stage as well, and those are completely isolated in their own boxes with isolating pucks underneath. A lot of the stuff that went into this is like a recording studio.”

Breglia says that when he came into the Uptown fold, he made a few specific requests in the interest of making the venue as engineer-friendly as possible. “We have only 863 soft seats in here, and it’s a two-tier progressive rake,” he says. “There’s no traditional balcony, and it’s only 120 feet or so from the stage to the back of the hall. Well, my front-of-house is dead-center at 47 feet from the front of stage. Those would be money seats. It’s almost unheard of to get that.”

Breglia’s FOH position is equipped with an Avid VENUE board, but the space was spec’d to accommodate a full-size analog desk if needed. “I’d say 65 percent of the acts bring their own production, but less stacks and racks,” Breglia says. “Our hang never comes down. The Meyer MICA system [8 speakers flown per side] is always up there.”

photo of Devo

Devo in performance at the Uptown Theatre

In monitor world, the speakers are also all from Meyer: five MJF-212A dual 12-inch wedges, five UM1-P wedges, and a USW1-P subwoofer. The monitor console is an Avid SC48.

“I spec’d the Avid boards partly because they are universally known. I also like them because, in 15 or 20 minutes, I can clear FOH and monitor world and then touring guys can pop their own stuff in. I have multiple tielines into my [Meyer Galileo] speaker management. I have dedicated runs for our snakes from stage to FOH that are not shared by anything in the house. So we can get an artist up and running in an hour.

“Touring acts usually have 8 or 9 a.m. calls, and our call time is rarely before 2 p.m. in most situations, even with a big board, but that’s also a nod to my amazing crew. Most of our production crew are grads of Ex’pression College [] and came to us with the help of Shiloh Hobel, their career placement director. All of us are just trying to make our house as user-friendly as possible for the touring guys. I want them to come in and say, ‘This is great, we’re going for a drink.’ And what better place than Napa to do that?”

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