Pentacle Theatre needs new sound equipment, and we’re hoping you can help.

            Picture this. It’s the 1990s. I was the Technical Director of Sound at Warner Bros. Studios on three movies, Big, Beetlejuice and The Bodyguard. I carried a pager and a flip phone and right about that time, the latest sound equipment had just been installed at Pentacle Theatre. Some of that equipment is still there today, and we need your help to replace it.

            Since moving from Hollywood to Salem in 2014, I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve seen at Pentacle. The quality of the talent and productions could compete with nearly anything on Broadway. However, the Pentacle’s sound quality has gone the way of the pager and flip phone. The stereo speakers that used to be the best available are now crackling and complaining, as are some of you – our loyal patrons – who have grown accustomed to the higher end sound quality that’s available in your home theater systems. And, a new generation of theater goers have grown to expect a more immersive experience.

            I’m writing to ask for your financial support to improve the audio, acoustical and sound equipment that will take us into the next decade and beyond. Your donation will:

  • Improve the quality of sound in the theater by giving the sound designer the ability to provide a surround sound experience, placing sounds in exactly the spot they should be coming from.

  • Provide wireless headsets for more actors, making spoken lines and lyrics clearer and more easily heard.

  • Add sound dampening in the musicians’ area, a drum kit enclosure, along with acoustic treatment of the walls and ceilings of the theater itself. This will dramatically improve the quality of the overall sound while eliminating feedback.

            I’m not going to attempt to explain the details behind the needed Digital Signal Processor and Digital Snake Heads that are also on the list of necessary equipment. The names alone are confusing enough. What is easy to understand is that the sound booth, upstairs in the theatre hasn’t been finished in the decades that Pentacle has existed. The bare framed walls, lack of drywall, no insulation, no glass enclosure to keep sound booth noises from reaching the audience make it a dank, cold working environment. Our volunteers don’t even have comfortable chairs to sit on.

            Our volunteers deserve better. You deserve better. Pentacle deserves better.

            It’s not cheap. It’ll cost $65,000 to buy and install all of the new sound equipment.

            Here’s where we need your help.

Last year, grants from the Reser Family Foundation and Barbara & Bruce Thompson were used to buy a new mixing console and stage box and the new assistive listening device system. The William S. Walton Charitable grant is buying the first round of rechargeable battery packs. Those grants really helped. But…we still need to raise $65,000 to complete the rest of the needed improvements. It’s a lot of money, but I think we can do it.

            In fact, I feel so strongly about this project that I am making a challenge gift of $10,000. If $10,000 is raised from Pentacle Theatre fans and friends, I will match it.

            You know, I love Salem. I love Pentacle Theatre. I’ve led the technical teams working on the films “South Pacific,” “Spartacus,” “The Sound of Music,” “Star Wars,” “Raging Bull,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Top Gun” and “Unforgiven” and literally hundreds of others and know what makes for top-notch sound. I was awarded an Oscar for my lifetime of achievement and contributions to the art of filmmaking (my wife made me add this part in). The point is, I know how much better the sound can be at Pentacle Theatre. I suspect it’s important to you too – because you also love Pentacle’s great community theater. That’s why we need your help.

            In advance, thank you so much for your donations to making the Pentacle sound great.

With gratitude,

           Donald C. Rogers


P.S. We’re trying to get the all the funds raised for the new equipment and its installation by July 30. Please send in a contribution as soon as you can! Like I said, I’ll give $10,000 once $10,000 has been raised.

P.P.S. You can make a secure donation on Pentacle’s website.