Since its debut on Broadway in the summer of 2002, Hairspray, the Tony Award-winning musical inspired by the cult-classic John Waters film of the same name, has been packing audiences in at the Neil Simon Theatre night after night. Capitalizing on its success, a duplicate of the smash hit took to the road late last year much in major cities across the U.S.
Like the Broadway production, sound design for the tour was provided by Steve Kennedy, well-known for his previous work on The Producers, The Lion King, RENT, Aida and Tommy. Upon the recommendation of fellow sound designers John Shivers and Andrew Keister, Kennedy chose to specify 10 L-ACOUSTICS dV-DOSC loudspeakers to deliver intelligible coverage to the often “acoustically challenged” balcony seating areas of host venues out on the road. Sound Associates of Yonkers, N.Y., provided the sale of the dV-DOSCs and a pair of dV-SUBs for general low-end reinforcement.
Keister, who also serves as supervising production sound engineer for the Hairspray tour, said, "We very often have two actors with omnidirectional microphones on their foreheads singing face to face, so the phase-cancellation issues can be horrendous. To remedy that, we've employed two separate sound systems, with two loudspeakers everywhere that you'd normally expect to find only one—except in the subwoofer system—and then put each actor into either the 'A' or 'B' system.
"Using that approach,” he continued, “we have an A/B cluster of 10 dV-DOSCs—five per system—hanging from the proscenium truss and firing into the balcony. The minimum throw from the cluster to the first audience member at that level is 35 feet, so the coverage is nice and wide at that distance. That's one of the beauties of the dV-DOSC; plus, the audio is very even and consistent on up the balcony. Some of the venues we're visiting have as many as 5,000 seats, which normally would have required us to hang a delay cluster on a truss 30 or 40 feet back in the house to get any clarity at the rear of the balcony. But that's not necessary with a dV-DOSC array; it's an impressive box.
"We're also very happy with the dV-SUB, which is a great-sounding subwoofer in a small package. When we first set it up and ran program material through it to see what we thought, it didn't even take one minute to know it was the right choice."
The Hairspray tour currently has confirmed bookings through the end of 2005 and tentative bookings through the end of 2007. Meanwhile, a third open-ended run of the show is now also in the design stages for the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. Scheduled to premiere on April 8, 2004, the audio system for the Canadian production will similarly use 10 dV-DOSCs to provide balcony coverage, according to Keister.