NEW YORK, NY, JANUARY 6, 2014 — Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, recently provided a custom audio equipment package for the current Broadway revival of Bernard Pomerance’s Tony Award®-winning play The Elephant Man, which is now playing a limited engagement through February 15, 2015 at the Booth Theatre in New York City.
Two-time Academy Award® nominee Bradley Cooper, Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award® winner Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola return to Broadway in The Elephant Man, directed by seven-time Tony nominee Scott Ellis. Based on the real life of Joseph Merrick, The Elephant Man tells the story of a 19th-century British man (Cooper) who became a star of the traveling freak show circuit. When the renowned Dr. Treves (Nivola) takes Merrick under his care, he is astonished by the man’s brilliant intelligence, unshakable faith and, most of all, his resounding desire for love and understanding. He introduces Merrick to the beautiful actress Mrs. Kendal (Clarkson), who is deeply touched by this pure and genuine soul. As a complex friendship blossoms among the three, Treves and Kendal struggle to protect Merrick from a world of questionable intentions, and so begins a story of love as unique as “The Elephant Man” himself.
John Gromada, Tony Award®-nominee and three-time Drama Desk-winning sound designer and composer, worked closely with Masque Sound to create an intimate and very natural sounding experience for the audience. “In designing the sound for The Elephant Man, my job was to provide transition music and sound, delivering the aural landscape that keeps the production moving forward,” says Gromada. “With about 20 scenes in total, my goal, artistically, was to sew the whole production together, take those scenes and make something full out of them in a way that was bold and daring. As always, I also wanted to ensure that all of the performers are heard properly and that the vocals are reinforced in a realistic way. The equipment Masque Sound provided made sure that we were able to do this, and my associate, Charles Coes, did a wonderful job of assembling the system.”
One of Gromada’s biggest challenges in designing the sound was with the layout of the theatre itself. “The Booth Theatre is a fairly intimate house, but there is a very deep under-balcony that makes it difficult for people who are sitting in that location to hear what is happening on-stage,” adds Gromada. “In order to overcome this and allow those people to hear the actors and sound score well, we consulted with Masque Sound and put together an under-balcony audio system, which provided excellent coverage in this area and made every seat in the house a good one.”
At the heart of the equipment package that Masque Sound provided was a Yamaha DM1000 digital console. Because the front of house had such a small footprint, the compact size and flexibility of the DM1000 made it an ideal solution and was Gromada’s console of choice. Gromada also used Yamaha DME processors for delay zones. The speaker system featured an array of equipment from audiotechnik d&b, including E9, E3 and E0 loudspeakers for the front fill. As the director wanted to give a sense of surround around the house, Gromada utilized EAW-Eastern Acoustic Works JF60s for the rears and sides surround system.
To reinforce the show, Gromada relied on five DPA 4021 microphones across the front deck of the stage. “There is no substitute for the 4021s in terms of clarity and presence,” Gromada adds. “It’s a pretty amazing little microphone. It’s so discreet, and there is usually never more than one mic up at a time. In an effort to make the show sound as natural as possible, the show’s engineer, Adam Smolenski, is doing a fantastic job of putting together a very active mix of the 4021s, which helps deliver a much cleaner sound to the audience.”
In addition to the custom audio equipment package, Masque Sound also provided its expert frequency coordination services for the show, which can be complicated to manage in the congested Broadway theatre space. “We threw a curve ball at them by adding wireless at the last second and Masque Sound was able to accommodate us, and made the whole process one that was seamless,” concludes Gromada. “We had a fairly limited budget, but Masque Sound was able to provide us with everything that was on our equipment list, without compromising on quality. The service I get from Masque Sound is always top rate, the quality control is excellent, and there is always a quick solution to any problems. Masque Sound is truly a fantastic company to work with.”
Bernard Pomerance’s Tony Award-winning classic, The Elephant Man, is scheduled to run through Sunday, February 15 at the Booth Theatre, located on 222 West 45th Street in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.elephantmanbroadway.com.
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.