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Live Sound

Pretty Woman is Heard on Broadway

Shivers, Patridge take on Sound Design for hit musical.

New York, NY (October 22, 2018)—Based on the hit 1990 film, Pretty Woman: The Musical opened in Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre in August, but had already the venue’s single-week box office record while it was still in previews. The show is based around new songs by Bryan Adams and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance (ironically, no music from the film is in the musical, including the titular Roy Orbison track), and every night, crowds hear them via an audio system designed by sound designer John Shivers and long-time collaborator, sound designer and audio engineer, David Patridge.

The two aren’t new to the Great White Way—together they’ve worked on a slew of musicals as well as the audio refit of The Lion King—but in every case, the main goal is the same: “Clarity, clarity, clarity,” said Shivers. “The challenge is always to make it sound good for everyone, from the on-stage performers, to the orchestra, to the audience. As is typical with every design for musicals, the devil is in the details.”

Mixing Broadway’s Carousel

In this case, as with many of their previous efforts, they used a KV2 Audio SL412 point source speaker system for the center and two actively driven, narrow footprint full range ESR215s at left and right, each supplemented by a variety of application-defined loudspeakers from the KV2 portfolio, including the passive ESD Series and the active EX Series.

According to Patridge, “Working in Broadway theatre is always a challenge physically. Locations for speakers are often dictated by architecture such as box seats and sight lines. Fortunately, the narrow width of the ESR215 is a real asset. It has become our go-to loudspeaker for a main system at the proscenium.”

“Clarity and detail of the soundstage is most noticeable,” he said, adding, “On Pretty Woman, this came in handy because much of the action is staged on a passerelle located where the railing of the orchestra pit would normally be—downstage of the speakers. We find KV2 loudspeakers are closer to working with something hi-fi.”

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In all, the audio team uses three ESD36s for balcony delays; a whopping 58 ESD5s for front fills, orchestra delay, balcony delay, box fills, side and rear surround; a pair of ESR215s for left and right orchestra; 14 EX6s for fill and foldback; two EX10s for more fill; two EX15s for balcony right and left; two SL412s for center and center delay, and a quartet of VHD2.18J subwoofers for floor and truss subs. All that is powered by ESP4000, SL3000 and VHD3200 amplifiers.

KV2 Audio •