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Rene Cruz, Electronics Engineer

On a par with the best in light & sound effects

BY DOLORES SYLVIA G ALZ

When the partners Chit Juan, Sandra Chavez and Girlie Rodiz were mulling over the idea of reopening Tavern on the Square, one of the hottest music bars that proliferated Makati in the 1980s, the first thing they agreed on was to have their own lights and sounds. Only one name cropped up as key to this decision.


That would be top lights designer/directors and sound engineer Rene Cruz, owner/manager of EFX Lights & Sound. Because his work is always behind the scenes, not many people outside the industry know about him. So, who is this man?

He had worked with selected artist at the old Tavern, a place he fondly remembers as funfilled, packed with people, with many an upcoming artist creating a name for himself there. When the ladies broached the idea of reopening at Greenbelt 3, he was definitely interested. On one condition: they had to put only the best in lights and sounds.

According to him, what goes into live entertainment is so different from what goes into a disco, where once you put the lights and sound, that's it. In live entertainment, "there are many variables. It's unpredictable. It's the artist. It's the equipment. it's the venue." To better showcase its performers, today's tavern is outfitted with the best there is in the entertainment lounge industry, something that no other lounge has matched. And that's by show biz standards.

If the members of the bands keep saying, 'it feel so good to play here,' that's because Rene Cruz made sure that the facilities were complete for a band, even for a major artist. Yet, it's similarly well equipped for fashion shows, product launches and other corporate events at no extra cost for lights and sound. And there are three technicians on standby at any given time. Its follow spots are of the same caliber as those of Music Museum, which is really a concert venue. Now he's itching to put in lasers, too.

Cruz: "The real challenge here is not technical but demonstrating that Filipinos are on a par with, if not better than, their foreign counterparts."

It's all very qualitative, he explains. Sadly, only those who are very sensory can tell the difference. Customers comment on how they are able to listen to the band and conduct a decent conversation without straining, but don't really know why. Or they say,"hindi ako napapagod makinig dun[I didn't get tired listening]."

It was at the tavern of the '80s where the directory of artists with whom Cruz worked started to fill up. Today, the extensive roster spans the globe, divergent musical genres, and three decades. [Well, he did say that his interest in this feild started when he was only nine years old] On the Pinoy side, it lists 30 names like Jaya, Kuh Ledesma, Lani Misalucha, Leah Navarro and Leah Salonga, Mon David, Ogie Alcasid, and th APO Hiking Society. And whether in jest or not, Joey Albert has been heard to say"Pag hindi ka dumaan kay Rene Cruz, baduy ka"[Your'e just not part of the in crowd if you've never worked with Rene Cruz]."

Cruz's creative experimentation is validated whenever an artist's contract rider names him as sound engineer, a clause tantamount to 'I' m bot singing- unless-it 's Rene' that started with Gary V, Martin Nievera, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Sharon Cuneta and lately with Pops Fernandez and Regine Velasquez.

There is no sign of boasting as he clarifies: "That's because I like to explore on effects such as reverberation and echo. The people in the industry will confirm that I started that kind of a system. I use personalized effects for Martin, for Gary. Each performer has customized settings."

The foreign side of the roster reads like the who's who in the music world: Manhattan Transfer, Kevin Lettau, Ricky Martin, Sting, Kalapana, Roberta Flack, Tadao Hayashi, Supremes, Gloria Estefan, Chick Correa, Alanis Morisette and The Fifth Dimension. Having Worked with over 60 foreign artists Rene Cruz reveals that these engagements are the most challenging. He notes that they are generally demanding and more often than not, underestimate the capability of the Filipinos.

Normally, local engineers are relegated to providing equipment and set it up. Their foreign counterparts operate and manage the show proper. The only time that Pinoys earn respect is when problems arise and they're the ones who are able to solve it. The real challenge here is not technical but in demonstrating that Filipino are on a par with, if not better than their foreign counterparts. That change in perception becomes apparent when Filipinos are asked to do show proper. And as it has turned out for Cruz, even Thalia of Marimar fame had that contract rider during her second performance in the Philippines. See CRUZ C2

EFX Lights & Sound

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY THROUGH THE YEARS Sales - Rental - Service - Consultancy - Design - Installation Concert and Sound Reinforcement, Stage/Studio Lighting, Automated Lighting, Show Controls, Architectural Lighting, Audio/Visual, Engineering and Consultancy.

This project was installed by Mr.Rene Cruz(attached photo) of EFX Pro Lights & Sound. The System is consists of 10units ACT707SE,10units ACT707TE,4units ACT707HE and 10pcs MU55L..

WANDERS SET TO ENTHRALL AUDIENCES

THE Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) raises the bar of family-oriented entertainment as it presents Wanders, a one-of-a-kind musical-circus production, beginning July 14, at the PAGCOR Grand Theater at the Airport Casino in Paranaque City .

Featuring the best Filipino performers together with classically-trained Russian dancers and premier Chinese acrobats, Wanders represents PAGCOR’s first serious venture into world-class family entertainment, with an eye on helping promote tourism in the country.

The first of its kind in the country, it combines the elements of theater, concert and circus all in one show.

“Wanders is a glimpse of the future for PAGCOR in particular and the Philippine entertainment and tourism industries in general,” says Efraim C. Genuino, the state-owned gaming firm’s Chairman and CEO.

Besides boasting of a high-caliber cast, the show also features the latest in lighting and stage technology. Chairman Genuino proudly noted that the show was conceptualized and produced purely “by Filipinos with a vision.” “Wanders is not like other shows which we only ‘rent’ from foreign production companies. With this show, we relied solely on our own imagination and creativity,” he said.

“From the performances to costume design, it was created and developed with the global audience in mind,” he added. The show likewise represents PAGCOR’s initial step toward bigger projects in the future, as well as the corporation’s shift from gaming to entertainment. “Our vision is to become a provider of total entertainment, not just premier casino gaming. This is our stepping stone toward achieving our goal of becoming a true global corporation,” Chairman Genuino said.

Directed by acclaimed stage master Bong Quintana, Wanders is a sentimental journey of two “wanderers” that promises to be a feast for the senses. The story unfolds through the performances of local stars Nonie Buencamino, Calvin Millado and Frenchie Dy, and top local dance groups Whiplash, Hotleggs and the Manoeuvres.

“It is the biggest of all the productions I have directed, and when I say biggest, I mean in terms of scope, requirements and preparation,” said Quintana, who with the crew has spent months perfecting the show.

“Time, money and expertise have been pulled together to come up with a show which is now a very unique entertainment experience,” he added. Quintana also had the challenge of blending the performances of the Russians and Chinese seamlessly into the local acts of Wanders which the director says promises audiences a “magical evening of fabulous costumes, spectacular production numbers, and mesmerizing acts.”

RUSSIAN, CHINESE PERFORMERS ADD LUSTER TO ‘WANDERS’

Classically-trained dancers from Russia and top acrobats from China join some of the finest Filipino performers in a stage production, which aims to raise the bar of family entertainment, as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) unveils Wanders on July 14 at the PAGCOR Grand Theater, Airport Casino, in Paranaque City.

Wanders is a one-of-a-kind extravaganza that is set to revolutionize the local entertainment scene as we know it. It is a visual and auditory treat, captivating audiences with gravity-defying aerial acrobatics, stunning displays of skill and physical prowess, soulful renditions of timeless classics and vibrant dance numbers.

“Wanders is a key project of PAGCOR, as the state-owned gaming firm moves ahead on its venture into world-class, family-oriented entertainment to promote tourism in the country,” says PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Efraim C. Genuino, the creator-visionary of the show.

“Likewise, we aim to provide our homegrown talents the opportunity to work in a production at par with international standards,” he adds. Taught in ballet and jazz dance, the Russian dancers hail from Moscow and Belarussia. They will dazzle the audience with their exquisite moves and stunning costumes as they perform to the beat of a live band and in tandem with local stage and singing stars Nonie Buencamino, Calvin Millado and Frenchie Dy, and top Pinoy dance groups Whiplash, Hotleggs and the Manoeuvres.

The Chinese acrobats, on the other hand, were handpicked from various acrobatic troupes in the Henan province of China , considered the breeding ground of the world’s top acrobatic performers. To be brought to Manila is a remarkable feat engineered by PAGCOR considering the Chinese are supposed to reserve their best performers for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Individually, the acrobats have toured Europe and Japan . They will perform stunts like the silk ballet “Flight of Love,” the “Spinning Diablo” or Chinese yoyo act, and the “Swinging Poles” act, which has never been performed outside of China before. In addition, the Chinese troupe is bringing in three contortionist girls aged nine to 13, who are considered as crowd favorites.

“Wanders is the biggest of all the productions I have directed, and when I say ‘biggest,’ I mean biggest in terms of scope, requirements and preparation,” says the show’s director, acclaimed stage master Bong Quintana. “Time, money and expertise have been pulled together to come up with a show which is now a very unique entertainment experience,” he adds.

Showbiz folks, coffee expert and technical guy spell a Tavern

THE PEOPLE behind the new Tavern on the Square.

By Margie Quimpo-Espina

SHOW BIZ people who know how to handle their finances belong to a rare breed. Rarer still are those in the industry who have business know -how.

Fortunately some of these show biz people got together to embark on a multi million project- the reopening of Tavern on the Square.

Talent manager Girlie Rodis, who recently jpined the Ayala Group via Talentworks Asia (a talent management outfit), says Ayala called her up offering her a space at the New Greenbelt.

"When I thought of a venue, the first thing that came to my mind was Tavern, so I immediately called Sandra (Chave, talent manager and agent of Sharon Cuneta)," recalls GR, as she is more popularly known.

Sandra was one of the owners of the first Tavern, together with Chit Juan of Figaro coffee and Rose Alberto, who use to be with the Regent of Manila.

Tavern on the Square was a popular music bar and restaurant of the '80s at the basement of the LPL Towers in Makati where the country's newest talents made their debuts. These included Zsa Zsa Padilla , Gary Valenciano, Music and Magic, Side A, Cicada and Capuccino. It closed in 1986 after the Edsa revolution.

Role

Sandra says after GR called, she immediately contacted her previous partners in Tavern to ask if they would be interested to reopen the lounge.

Rose Alberto declined but allowed her former partners to reopen. Chit Juan was a go, and Sandra brought her lawyer- brother, Mitch Chave to be the corporate counsel. Mitch owns shares but is not a director.

They invited two others- Rene Cruz, who is engaged in the business of lights and sounds rentals to join and to handle the technical aspects of the business; and Wyngard Tracy, another talent manager who handles Side A, Freestyle and Basil Valdez. Rose Alberto was given honorary shares.

The assignments of the six partners are clear: Chit is in charge of finance and operations, Sandra is in charge of entertainment, GR handles events, marketing and promotions, Rene is the technical engineer; and Wyngard is also in charge of entertainment and bringing in talents.

Sandra says they try to meet as often as possible although it is difficult because of their busy schedules. So far they have managed to work within their schedules and they take turns managing the business whena partner is away.

Not on a whim

Chit adds that the decision t reopen Tavern, however, was not just decided on a whim. Chit says they conducted an informal research about the needs of the market they are targeting which is the young adults of today. Sandra adds that they envisioned Tavern to be a place " to do special shows with big names in an intimate place.

The Tavern Cafe is also envisioned to be a " place where contracts are signed" says Chit. The shows at Tavern usually start at 9 in the evening and for Oct. 8 and 9 they are featuring a special show of Lani Misalucha and Louie Ocampo.

Tavern has a capacity of almost 300 and they expect the place to also being an events venue. Total investment cost for the place reached over P10 million but they point out that since they tapped experts in the various areas required for such a business, they were able to cut expenses.

Unlike in the past where the ambiance of the place was french Moroccan, the Tavern of today is now more casual, says Chit.

Ricky Martin Thrills Manila

"The screaming was incredible, and it was practically nonstop...The Meyer system gave us plenty of headroom and it provided clear penetration of every instrumental sound through the crowd noise." - Robby Lopez EFX Light and Sound

MANILA - When Latin pop superstar Ricky Martin took the stage in Plenary Hall of the Philippines International Convention Center, the packed house of fans reacted with predictably unrestrained emotion. "The screaming was incredible," says Robby Lopez of Manila-based EFX Light and Sound, audio rental company for the show. "And it was practically nonstop. Ricky's FOH mixer, Steve Guest, told me he was temporarily deafened in one ear by shrieks from one girl standing right behind him."

Fortunately, EFX had brought a system with ample power for rising above the ecstatic din. Except for a dozen custom subwoofer cabinets, it was an all-Meyer Sound system: sixteen flown MSL-4 self-powered cabinets supplemented by a total of six Crown-powered UPA-1 and UPL-1 fill cabinets for covering some marginal seating areas tucked away in corners of the odd-shaped venue.

"The Meyer system gave us plenty of headroom," says Lopez, "and it provided clear penetration of every instrumental sound through the crowd noise." According to Lopez, engineer Steve Guest had tipped the rental contract toward his company largely on the basis having the MSL-4 system available.

Martin's vocals originated through a Sony UHF radio system with (Shure SM-58 capsule), and were blended with his energetic 14-piece band on a 40-input Soundcraft Europa. For monitoring, Future Sonics in-ear systems were supplemented by Crest-powered Meyer Sound 650-R2 subwoofers for subsonic bass "feel". Monitor mixing was on a Yamaha PM-4000M.

The December 1 show was Martin's first appearance in the Philippines as a solo artist, though he had played Manila years earlier as a member of the international teen-pop sensation Menudo. The show marked engineer Guest's third round working with an EFX-supplied package in Manila (previous tours were with Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson), and after the screaming subsided, he pronounced EFX's new MSL-4 system "easily the best one yet." December, 1998

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