Following it successful run in Canada, the stage version of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has arrived in London. As in the original production, all 50 castmembers are miked with DPA miniatures, using 4061s and 4066 omnis across the board, while some instruments are miked with a further selection of DPAs.
The new show is scored by Indian composer AR Rahman and Finnish contemporary folk group Värttinä, and played live by 17 musicians. Sound designer Simon Baker from Autograph, with associate Alan Lugger and front-of-house engineer Laurie Kirkby, set out to create a crisp, clean and intelligible mix.
Baker decided to move both the brass and percussion sections out of the orchestra pit and into a purpose-built studio space upstage behind an LED wall. “I felt that this was the only way to achieve some of the larger orchestral moments without compromising the string sound in the pit,” explains Baker. “It has also allowed us to mike the sections as we wanted rather than being dictated to by the physical constrictions of a West End pit. It was a gamble that has paid off really well.”
Baker has used DPA IMK4061 miniature instrument miking kits for the strings, DPA 4011 cardioids for horns and DPA 4041 large diaphragms for percussion and further strings, while DPA 4015 wide-cardioids take care of more unusual ethnic instruments, which include a Jouhikko, an ancient, three-stringed Finnish bowed lyre, and bouzouki.
Meanwhile, the 50-strong cast are equipped with personal transmitters running either DPA 4061 miniatures or DPA 4066 omnidirectional miniature headbands. “We have some tricky mic placements to do, particularly with Gollum,” says Baker. “DPAs are great in this situation: rugged and reliable. I am also reliant on them to perform well across a very broad dynamic range, not to mention inside the varied helmets and hats worn by the company. Our onstage sound team has done some great work in getting mics disguised into some very esoteric headwear.”