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Hamburg Stage Production ‘Rocky das Musical’ Relies on Meyer Sound

American actor Drew Sarich portrays Rocky Balboa in Rocky das Musical

A daring stage adaptation of Sylvester Stallone’s iconic film, Rocky das Musical opened in Hamburg, Germany on November 18, 2012, to glowing reviews. Rocky das Musical was produced by Stage Entertainment GmbH, the German subsidiary of Amsterdam-based Stage Entertainment, together with Sylvester Stallone and Ukrainian boxing champions, Vitali and Wladmir Klitschko. The book is by Thomas Meehan, with music by composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens.

Director Alex Timbers told the New York Times that his goal for the production was “to combine the intimate and the epic.” This scope of dramatic moods is supported sonically through variable acoustics generated by a permanently installed Constellation acoustic system from Meyer Sound.

With an investment of nearly $20 million by Germany’s Stage Entertainment GmbH, Rocky is staged in Hamburg’s 1,400-seat Operettenhaus, a Stage Entertainment-owned theater with excellent technical amenities but very dry acoustics.

“I started discussing Constellation with technical management at Stage Entertainment early in the project,” says sound designer Peter Hylenski. “As the design for the show came together, it quickly became evident that Constellation would be playing not only a technical role in enhancing room sound, but also an artistic role by providing enhanced ‘environments’ to match specific locales in the story.”

According to Hylenski, the Constellation system realizes a dramatic, two-fold enhancement of his sound design. “As an acoustic enhancement system, even the slightest addition seems to ‘lift the sound off the page’ by giving more depth and excitement to the room,” he says. “But we also use it as an environmental simulator. Two examples are scene where Rocky is punching sides of beef in the meat locker—using short, hard early reflections—and the final fight scene with long pre-delays to create the feeling of an arena. It’s exciting and theatrical, yet it sounds incredibly real.”

The permanent Constellation system at the Operettenhaus is built around the Meyer Sound D-Mitri digital audio platform with two core processors, a core matrix unit, and nine digital and analog I/O units. Four DVRAS modules generate early reflections and complex late reverberations in four zones. Forty-two cardioid and omni microphones pick up ambient room sound, with the variable acoustics created through 235 Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers comprising seven different full-range and subwoofer models. The options for room variation include five reverberation times, each with three density settings, plus nine bass ratio and nine strength presets.

The installed Constellation system works with the configuration that Hylenski created specifically for the production. This system has its own D-Mitri-based show control system interfacing directly with Constellation, and the predominantly Meyer Sound loudspeaker system is anchored by twin arrays of 13 per side M’elodie line array loudspeakers with two ground-stacked 700-HP subwoofers under each array. The balance of the system incorporates seven other Meyer Sound full-range loudspeakers and three additional subwoofer models, totaling 124 cabinets in all. Amptown System Company GmbH (ASC) of Hamburg supplied all Meyer Sound components for both the permanent Constellation and current production systems.

The permanent installation of Constellation in the Operettenhaus was made possible in part because of the unique business model of Stage Entertainment, explains Andreas Hammerich, production sound engineer and sound designer for the company.

“Unlike Broadway and West End, at Stage Entertainment we both produce the shows and own the theaters,” Hammerich notes. “That means we take a long-term look at what technical investments will realize a return. And with Rocky, Constellation is already making a difference. The sound is so special that audiences walking out of the theatre cannot believe what they just experienced. It is that extraordinary.”

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