When Tony® award-winner John Shivers, along with David Patridge were personally selected by Barry Manilow and theater veteran Bruce Sussman to create the sound design for the legendary singer’s highly anticipated new musical, Harmony – A New Musical, they turned to Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, to provide a custom audio equipment package.
Harmony, which officially opened at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta on September 15, recounts the true story of the Comedian Harmonists, six talented young men who in 1920s Germany took the world by storm with their signature blend of sophisticated close harmonies and uproarious stage antics. The Comedian Harmonists sold millions of records, starred in dozens of films and packed the most prestigious concert halls around the globe until the world they knew forever changed with the commencement of World War II.
Working with Masque Sound for more than 20 years now, Shivers most recently collaborated with the company on the Broadway smash Kinky Boots, for which he won the Tony® award for Best Sound Design of a Musical. “When Barry Manilow was in essence auditioning sound designers for Harmony, he came to see Kinky Boots,” says Shivers. “He liked the sound of the show, and the very next day I received a call from Mr. Manilow asking if I could design the sound for Harmony. Masque Sound did a great job in providing the equipment and technical support for Kinky Boots, so they were my obvious choice for Harmony. I have a great relationship with them; they are wonderful to work with and are always attentive to my needs.”
One of the biggest challenges in the sound design for Harmony was achieving full-scale production sound on a limited-engagement show’s budget. “Whenever you have a very experienced pop star like Barry Manilow personally involved in a show, expectations are very high,” adds Shivers. “Although the show is only scheduled to run for a month, we did not want to compromise the sound in any way because of financial constraints. Through our design, along with Masque Sound’s extensive inventory, we were able to put together a package that ultimately ended up sounding great and made Barry very happy.”
Shivers and Patridge designed an audio equipment package that included a DiGiCo SD10 digital console. The SD10 offers a reasonably large number of inputs and outputs, along with signal routing flexibility. “DiGiCo continues to provide valuable software as an added package to their SD consoles which is designed specifically for the theatrical market,” says Patridge. “The SD10 was provided as an “SD10T” console with this software which allows the desk to operate in a manner very consistent with the needs of musical theatre. Theatre is such a small piece of the audio market and it is great to have vendors like Masque Sound who are willing to make the effort for us.”
In addition, Masque Sound provided a large speaker array of Meyer M’elodies, which Shivers likes because they have excellent clarity and punch in a relatively compact package. Masque Sound also provided Meyer subwoofers and Sennheiser Wireless SK5212s along with frequency coordination.
“Every job and every theater has its unique challenges from a sound design standpoint, whether it be microphone placement on the actors, time constraints, room acoustics, etc.,” adds Shivers. “Masque Sound is not only an equipment provider; their on-site support and troubleshooting is second to none.”
Directed by Drama Desk Award-nominee Tony Speciale (Classic Stage Company’s Unnatural Acts, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Harmony runs through October 6 at the Alliance Theatre and will move to Los Angeles in the spring of 2013.
About Alliance Theatre
Founded in 1968, the Alliance Theatre has become the leading producing theatre in the Southeast, creating the powerful experience of shared theatre for diverse people on two stages. The Alliance values excellence, pursued with integrity and creativity, and achieved through collaboration. Under the leadership of Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, the Alliance received the Regional Theatre Tony Award® in recognition of sustained excellence in programming, education and community engagement. Reaching more than 200,000 patrons annually, the Alliance delivers powerful programming that challenges adult and youth audiences to think critically and care deeply. Each year, the Alliance Theatre Acting Program and Education Department reaches 50,000 students through performances, acting classes, drama camps, and in-school initiatives with programs like the Collision Project for teens and the Theatre for the Very Young for audiences 18 months – 5 years old. The Alliance also nurtures the careers of playwrights through the Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition, producing a premiere for the competition winner as part of the regular season with national networking opportunities for four finalists. www.alliancetheatre.org
About Masque Sound
Founded in 1936 by a trio of Broadway stagehands, Masque Sound evolved into one of NYC’s most successful theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design companies specializing in theatrical, house of worship, sporting, corporate, TV broadcast and live concert events. Celebrating more than 75 years in the industry, the company is lead by Geoff Shearing, the firm’s 3rd generation owner, and Vice President and General Manager Stephanie Hansen. The company also operates Florida-based Professional Wireless Systems, a leader in the development and implementation of wireless technology. Credits range from major Broadway shows and tours including “Phantom of the Opera,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Lion King,” “Jersey Boys,” “Memphis,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Newsies,” “Once” and “Kinky Boots” to yearly Super Bowl broadcasts and installations of varying sizes, including New York’s New Victory Theater and historic St. Bartholomew’s Church. Masque Sound’s 70,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters and main assembly facility is located at 21 East Union Ave., East Rutherford, NJ, 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan. For more information, call (201) 939-8666 or visit www.MasqueSound.com.