The historic civil-rights site has been recently reborn as a theatrical and event space, and the venue’s new DiGiCo SD12T console assures excellent sound and Broadway-level theatrical functionality
On Saturday, February 13, 1960, after being denied service at the dining counter of Nashville’s Woolworth store, a group of students began a non-violent movement to challenge the decades-old practice of enforced segregation. They seated themselves at the counter and refused to leave until they were served. The resulting violent backlash, as well as the ensuing national and international media coverage, helped reinforce the nascent equal-rights movement.
Today, the building is a registered historic site, part of the Fifth Avenue Historic District in Nashville, for its role in the Civil Rights struggle. In 2021, country music artist Chuck Wicks and partners 615 Ventures and investor and entrepreneur Rob Bellenfant acquired the historic Woolworth building and converted it into an event venue and theater with a capacity of over 750. The central hub for the venue’s audio is a DiGiCo SD12T console optimized for theatrical applications, as well as a D-Rack and DMI-Waves card, all purchased through the Brentwood, Tennessee office of S&L Integrated, and installed by them in what is now known as the Woolworth Theatre.
“We chose the SD12T because it can handle theatrical and music production equally well,” states Hayden Chipley, Technical Director and FOH Engineer for the Woolworth Theatre. “It was important that we had a desk that could do both, with plenty of worksurface area, and yet also have a compact form factor and footprint to maximize the available space without compromising power and features.”
The venue has been hosting its first original production, Shiners, created by and co-starring Wicks, since the show opened last October, and other theatrical residencies are planned. “The SD12T is playing an important part in making the Woolworth Theatre an important venue in Nashville,” says Chipley.
There are good reasons for that. Chipley cites the SD12T’s ease of setting up and modifying EQ and dynamics profiles for each character in each production. “Even for understudies, which isn’t the easiest thing to do usually,” he explains. “You can make a copy of a profile and then edit it to perfectly fit any actor, even on short notice.”
He also cites how streamlined the snapshot process is on the console, as well as its workflow flexibility. “There are a ton of useful tools on it,” he says. “And I’m using all of them on Shiners, which combines dialog and music and comedy. It’s a diverse show and the console handles it easily. And once another show joins the space we can swap profiles and snapshots between them instantly.”
Nathan Tomberlin, Account Executive on the project at S&L Brentwood, says the integrator tried to balance combining a high level of technology with cost effectiveness when choosing products and systems. “This was going to be a sizable theater in downtown Nashville, used for house shows and additional promoted events. We wanted to make sure that everything was rider-friendly so that any touring show or artist would feel comfortable walking in and performing without the need to bring in outside lights and sound for concerts,” he explains. “That meant a brand like DiGiCo for sound—a platform that the industry was already familiar with and liked. The SD12T with the theatrical license was the perfect choice—it checked all the boxes.”
The SD12T did so in other ways, as well, adds Tomberlin. The console’s compact form factor and footprint allowed it to occupy a small space in the theater that didn’t sacrifice seats or operator functionality. In addition, with the house PA and wireless microphone systems both using a Dante network, the SD12T was able to interface with that via an Appsys ProAudio Flexiverter, chosen by Tomberlin as a format-conversion interface between those platforms and the MADI-enabled desk.
But both Chipley and Tomberlin cite DiGiCo’s customer support as perhaps the console’s greatest strength. Noting one system glitch early in the installation, Tomberlin recalls that DiGiCo’s tech-support team not only had a new desk sent over the same day, but had a tech onsite to patch it in and had it ready for that evening’s performances. “They white-gloved the entire thing,” he says. “They’re not just supporting a product; they’re supporting a brand, and that’s what a customer wants to see.”
For more information on the Woolworth Theatre, visit www.woolworththeatre.com. S&L Integrated can be found online at www.slintegrated.com.