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Wicked Wizardry Opens on Broadway

Broadway’s newest musical, Wicked, opened at The Gershwin Theatre. Comprising a cast of 34 performers with a 24-piece band, the show is mixed through

Broadway’s newest musical, Wicked, opened at TheGershwin Theatre. Comprising a cast of 34 performers with a 24-pieceband, the show is mixed through a new 101-slot Cadac J-Type LiveProduction Console, which was supplied by ProMix-Electrotec. Theconsole was specified with a combo of 35 programmable stereo and monodual-input modules, 48 standard dual-input modules, 67 motor faders and14 groups, housed in two frames and controlled via Cadac’s SoundAutomation Manager (SAM) software.

According to sound designer Tony Meola, “This show is a realblend of musical styles, with a rock ’n’ roll sound setagainst a 19th century background. It’s a wonderful mix that goesback to the rock opera style of musical that we first say with LesMis in the early ’80s, with a little electronic wizardrythrown in for good measure! When we first started work on the show inSan Francisco, things were a bit scary, all thanks to the dragon! Thedragon is positioned at the center of the proscenium, meaning that wecouldn’t position a center cluster as I would prefer. As aresult, I used the Meyer M1-D line array for the first time on thisshow, and it was good to have Meyer just across the Bay [Meyer islocated in Berkeley, Calif.] as we experimented with the system for thefirst time. But it all worked really well, and we got the sound wewanted, which makes the transfer much easier.

“It’s a big show—we have more automated modules onthe Cadac than every before—and we had some real fun putting thewhole thing together,” he continued. “I wanted to create amechanical sound to all the effects, using a cacophony of creaking andgroaning wood-based sounds to create an eerie impression of the variousanimals, other strange creatures, the inside workings of the clock,etc. We were able to draw lots of inspiration from the show itself andthe set, and it has been really fun—amazing to work on. TheGershwin Theatre has its challenges: It’s a big barn of a spacesplit across two levels, with most of the seats on the lower level, andour sound position is a fair way back in the middle of the stalls. Butwe have worked things out and the result sounds great. There are a lotof effects and we do a lot of it live during the show. For example, weput the Wizard’s voice out of the sampler dry and then throughthe effects processor. The tools we have available today let you becreative, as you know you can rely on them and concentrate on what youwant to do. I have a terrific team on the show, with associate sounddesigner Kai Harada, head operator Douglas Graves, plus Jack Babin,Shannon Slaton, Adam Rigby and John Curvan.”

Wicked’s sound system also comprises 36 SennheiserSK-5012 radio microphones and a comprehensive selection of Meyer Soundloudspeakers, with the M1-D line array system at the core.

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