Metinteractive, which provides strategic solutions for architecture, communication and technology, supplied AV systems for The Loomis Chaffee School’s renovation and expansion of the Norris Ely Orchard Theater (NEO). The Loomis Chaffee School is an independent, college preparatory boarding school for students in grades 9-12 located in Windsor, Connecticut
The project encompassed sound, video and communications for the NEO, which is part of the new John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols Center for Theater and Dance. The Center, designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, offers expanded and more flexible teaching and support spaces in its wood-framed, barn-style structure, which houses a black box theater and dance studio in addition to the NEO. The NEO maintained much of its original footprint while gaining width and depth on stage and an increased audience capacity with improved sight lines.
Metinteractive has a strong foothold in the preparatory education market. “We’re quite adept at marrying technology solutions with the often-complex culture of a prep school,” says Metinteractive CEO Jeff Mele, who spearheaded a similar project for the new LBD Performing Arts center at The Westover School in Middlebury, CT.
“For Loomis Chaffee we once again partnered with McPhee Electric, which also has expertise in dealing with technical integration on prep school campuses,” he reports. “The challenge, even after expansion, was fitting the equipment necessary to operate a theater like this into a very limited space.”
High-end audio gear specified for the NEO included Yamaha consoles and stage boxes, QSC DSP, Meyer speakers and Shure wireless mics. Video capabilities were expanded with three 3LCD Epson projectors, and Crestron video control.
“I can’t say enough good things about how great it was to work with Kyle Passaro and the team from Metinteractive,” says Lance Hall, Director of the Physical Plant at The Loomis Chaffee School. “Kyle was very good about follow up and communications, keeping us abreast of scheduling and recommending improvements as technology evolved a year-and-a-half into the project. The result was a very successful project that we’re more than happy with.”
Manufacturers’ continuing post-COVID supply chain issues also proved challenging, resulting in Metinteractive securing gently-used audio consoles to get the NEO up and running for its production of the Monty Python musical “Spamalot” last spring. “This temporary solution worked well while the NEO awaits delivery of its Yamaha gear when supply chain issues ease up,” says Metinteractive Project Manager Kyle Passaro.
Metinteractive also installed the infrastructure for cameras in each of the Center’s performance spaces. This enables the Center to patch video anywhere in the building and to connect their webstreaming system to the system.
As part of Metinteractive’s post-sale Managed Services, the company also provided training to students and supervisory staff. “Everyone using the equipment received hands-on training to acquire real-world experience in operating the gear for the school’s upcoming productions,” Passaro says.
Loomis Chaffee’s Hall received training on the gear along with the students who help support the program and members of the IT group. “We received very effective training on all aspects of AV,” notes Hall. “Our productions are all student-run; they’re in charge of an entire show like ‘Spamalot’ so it was important for them to participate in Metinteractive’s training.”
Following last spring’s musical, the Nichols’ Center hosted one-person performances and a dance revue, and this fall students are preparing to stage Hamlet.
“Metinteractive has been very easy to work with throughout the project,” says Hall. “We also appreciate that they are a very diverse group of installers, which aligns with our mission to work with vendors who reflect what our student body looks like.”
At Metinteractive Keith Book and Scott Tunkel were the Engineers on the project and Jim Lynes was the project manager for McPhee.