Improving the Sight and Sound Experience at Pickwick & Frolic

Harrington Electric Co. replaces the audio-visual system inside a Cleveland landmark.

Harrington Contact:

John Costella
[email protected]

A Venue Built On a Sound Foundation

Pickwick & Frolic stands on the site of what was once The Euclid Avenue Opera House, built in the 1800s. For Cleveland, the landmark was the grand marvel of its day, frequented by crowds from across the region.

The Opera House was demolished in 1922, and the S.S. Kresge Building was constructed in its place. This historic building still boasts the original sandstone foundation of the Euclid Avenue Opera House that remains preserved along the left stage in Hilarities 4th Street Theatre inside Pickwick & Frolic. The company “considers this sacred ground, providing live entertainment again on a site that once boasted some of the world’s best opera singers.”

In the heart of Cleveland, nestled within the historic S.S. Kresge Building, stands the iconic Pickwick & Frolic Restaurant & Club — a highly popular dining and entertainment destination downtown. The 27,000-square-foot gem is a fusion of charm and sophistication, comprising five unique spaces, including the Pickwick & Frolic Restaurant (with 185-seats), Hilarities 4th St. Theatre (a 400 seat built-for-comedy venue complete with skybox loge seating), Kevin’s Martini Bar & Tap Room, the Frolic Cabaret, and Northeast Ohio’s only Champagne Bar.

The venue’s success is heavily dependent on its audio-visual system, as its entertainers are only as good as the audience’s ability to see and hear them. To ensure this success, Pickwick management has made superior sight and sound for its patrons a high priority, and recently brought in Harrington Electric Co.’s experts to update the facility’s audio-visual system.

Under the leadership of John Costella, a Harrington estimator and project manager, the team embarked on a mission to enhance the guest experience at Pickwick & Frolic. The project, initiated in the fourth quarter of 2023, was focused on upgrading the audio-visual infrastructure throughout the complex, including the main showroom, cabaret, and martini bar areas, where outdated systems were affecting the quality of performances.

The work involved navigating several challenges inherent in retrofitting a century-old building, with its thick, bunker-like walls, sandstone and shale rock foundation and cavernous spaces.

“We were limited to working Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays so as not to interrupt the normal entertainment schedule at the facility,” said Costella. “We also had to keep the existing system in tact, and run it concurrently with the updated system we were installing.”

The Harrington team worked to pull cable, install video monitors and projectors, mount a large number of speakers, and install and paint the connected conduit piping to make it blend in with the walls.

“It was interesting because the smallest speakers each weighed 45-50 pounds, and the larger sub-woofers weighed up to 130 pounds, requiring a couple of guys on ladders to install,” Costella explained. “Then, after mounting, we had to be extremely precise in where to point the speakers to achieve the best sound in the various rooms. The job really involved a bit of acoustic science and expertise to get it exactly where we and the owners were happy.”

With a completion date slated for May 2024, the Harrington team will switch off the old sound system and power up an enhanced audio-visual experience that pays homage to Pickwick & Frolic’s storied past while embracing the demands of the modern entertainment landscape.