The world’s first amateur production of the musical The Hunting of the Snark was staged at the open-air Minack Theatre (Cornwall, UK) with sound control from three Allen & Heath mixers. Originally produced and performed in London’s West End in 1991, The Hunting of the Snark is songwriter/composer Mike Batt’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem about a voyage in search of a mythical creature.
Sound and lighting was a particular challenge at the theater, which is perched on a cliff and exposed to the elements. Every piece of equipment had to be hand-carried down the steep amphitheatre and had to be able to withstand all weathers. The FOH mix and lighting are controlled from a small stone “hut” halfway up the gulley of seats. Below is a VIP box, which regular Minack soundman, James McLeod, prefers to use for viewing and listening reasons.
McLeod explained, “The house system is based around a 24-channel Allen & Heath GL2200 dual-function live sound mixer, with inputs from float mics, MD/CD players and eight Sennheiser Evolution radio mics. There is a dedicated power amp for onstage Bose 802s, and a separate rack of five dual-channel amps to drive the Bose 402 and 101 speakers distributed throughout the auditorium. For FOH delays, a Yamaha digital delay unit gives three levels of delay.”
For Snark’s production, this setup was augmented by two additional mixers to accommodate 16 radio mics for the cast (Trantec S4.5 and S4000 UHF models), five Crown PCC front-of-stage float mics and the band. An Allen & Heath PA20 compact stereo live mixer was used in the pit to provide two sub-mixes of four DPA 4060 string mics and the AKG C418/D 112 drum kit mics. These went back to the VIP box down a 50-meter multicore, along with feeds from four ambient AKG C 1OOOS mics suspended above the wind/reeds, with DIs for guitar, bass and keys. The VIP box contained the other two mixers, three radio mic receiver racks, a Sony MID player and an Alesis MicroVerb FX Unit. A 16-channel Allen & Heath GL2000 was used to provide two separate sub-mixes for the float mics and the band.
Wear continues, “I drove the band sub-mix on the PA20, which proved pretty straightforward even for my limited sound engineering skills. A bit of parametric EQ for strings and kit sounds, together with a light use of built-in digital reverb for strings—a quartet playing a score originally written for orchestral sections—seemed to do the trick.”