A KIDS Experience Enlightens Possibilities
Meet KIDS Technical Director, Matt Pea
The guy behind the KIDS sound
Matt Pea, Technical Director, Kids from Wisconsin
The Kids from Wisconsin performance depends greatly on its technical team.  With shows ranging from professional theaters, outdoor venues to gymnasiums, without the expertise of trained sound technicians, the show could not happen.

Matt Pea, has been the KIDS technical director since 2011. That is over 300 performances with the Kids from Wisconsin! Matt is also the founder of Pinnalce Audio.
 In this feature we ask Matt to tell us about his KIDS experience. 
Q:  Matt, the Kids from Wisconsin perform approximately 60 performances each year in a large variety of venues.  What are some of the challenges your team has to overcome when you start your summer tour and look towards all these different venues? 
A:  Aside from learning the show, the largest project is preventative maintenance on equipment during rehearsal camp. Problems can creep up on you during the Summer.
Time lapse stage set up
Time lapse- stage set up
During camp we find weak spots in equipment and repair potential issues before something fails. Lots of planning goes into determining arrival and departure times, coordinating all of the information with the respective venues are key challenges. Communicating with the venue technicians: learning what equipment is on site, discussing lighting needs, where equipment is to be loaded etc. On top of all that, we help make sure the performers themselves are ready to hit the road.  Each performer plays a key role in stage and sound set up as well as strike.  Coordinating and communicating to the performers these roles, how to do them quickly and safely brings on a unique set of aspect of my job that I really enjoy, but it's challenging.

Q: What certain aspects of the Kids from Wisconsin gig make your job enjoyable?
A: On a personal level, I really enjoy getting to work with such talented performers and being a part of their performing experience - the staff is great too, by the way. Everyone on the KIDS staff has an influence in each troupe member's journey and from the technical side, I try to make it as enjoyable as possible. On a professional level, I really like the complexity that lies within a KIDS performance. Mixing for KIDS, as well as other musical theater acts, brings with it a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that I don't get when I'm out mixing bands.

Outreach in WI Rapids with the B&G Club

Since the inception of "Realize Your Dream", a Kids from Wisconsin outreach experience, the technical team also teaches area youth about what it takes to produce the sound and lighting of a KIDS production. 

Pictured are youth from the Wisconsin Rapids Boys and Girls Club that partook in the outreach in 2016. They were fascinated by all the buttons, controls and the BIG sound from the sub woofers    

Q:  What was your most challenging KIDS performance and why?  
A: There are three that tie for the number one spot.
#1: was in 2010 when I filled in as the sound engineer in Mayville. It was one of a few shows I did that Summer, was in my hometown, and the only show the producer would be there for. I wanted it to be great. I had an advantage since I learned how to run sound in that odd auditorium, but still I felt a lot of pressure.
#2 Would be Medford in 2011 for the Taylor County Fair. The show was held outdoors  on a clay race track with a makeshift stage not big enough for everything. Auxiliary percussion and the drum kit were set up in the back of the equipment truck - pulled up next to the stage - and the remaining band in a single file line across the upstage edge. Then factor in the 40 minute downpour that happened ⅓ of the way through the show and the fact that the presenter  wanted us to continue with saturated equipment. Not to mention we had to unload the truck after loading it following the show to let all the equipment air out in a county shed, and the list goes on.
#3 Dodgeville in 2014, outside in a grass field at the bottom of a hill, myself and the Assistant Tech Director were watching the equipment while the bus took the troupe to an outreach off site. A sudden downpour occurred while we were alone.  The bottom of the hill acted as a literal fish bowl where water collected and equipment ended up under water very quickly.  Eventually the skies cleared and the presenter wanted the show to go on.  Power wasn't restored until about 20 minutes before showtime.  We made it happen.

 Q:  On the off season, and even between KIDS performances, you provide sound and other technical services to other groups.  Please tell us more about the other groups and types of jobs you have done.   
A: I've been with Piano Fondue since early 2009 and am currently their Technical Director as well. I manage the technical staff, schedule technicians for events, maintain equipment, and participate as a technician at events. I work for a couple production companies as a contractor at larger events like multi-day festivals or larger corporate events as well as mixing for the occasional show at the Schauer Center.
Piano Fondue Set

Outside of KIDS, my favorite area to work in is musical theater. Arrowhead Union and Monona Grove High School's both have brought me in to mix their shows for which I've been nominated for, and won, a Tommy Award for Sound Design. I am also the fill-in engineer for Bradford High School's musical productions, subbing in for the previous KIDS TD who is their regular engineer.

Q:  Being the Technical Director of a touring group like KIDS, I am sure your responsibilities are more than just the sound of the show.  Can you help us understand the scope?
A: The Tech Director oversees a little of everything. Making sure the lighting is up to par, possibly recording a set, and taking care of any repairs that may be needed on various pieces of equipment. I also oversee the staging to make sure adjustments are made is the stage is too small for our needs. I also supervise and manage the performers, along with the other staff members. There's a lot to keep track of, but once you get used to it, it all just kind of... happens.

Matt has a technical team that he oversees with the Kids from Wisconsin, helping to provide the unique sound and iconic performance that the KIDS are known for.  The team consists of:
Assistant Technical Director, Cody Ruhmann and Lighting Technician, Mykhailo Nahirniak

Matt Pea is the found of:
Pinnacle Audio strives to bring the best
audio reproduction and customer service to our clients, regardless of event type.

Contact Kids from Wisconsin
640 S 84th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53214