NEW YORK, NY, OCTOBER 30, 2014 - When the ambitious and original new musical FOUND opened at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater on October 14, Sound Designer Ken Travis enlisted the services of Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, to provide a custom audio equipment package to help audiences discover this Off-Broadway gem.
FOUND isn’t just based on a true story; it’s based on hundreds of them. FOUND is an original musical featuring scores of surprising and eccentric discarded notes and letters that have been “found” in the real world by every-day people. Inspired by actual events, the show follows Davy who, along with his two best friends, is lost and broke. When he finds a strangely revealing note on his windshield meant for someone else, it sparks an outlandish idea that finds him and his companions on a wild, comedic journey. By bringing a host of real notes and letters from Davy Rothbart's popular FOUND Magazine to irreverent theatrical life, this insightful new musical tells a story of ambition, betrayal and loyalty while celebrating the weirdness in us all.
Travis’ biggest challenge in designing the sound was adhering to the very quick amplification changes in the theater, which was previously an old church. “Because of its architectural design, you can’t really hit the walls and you can’t activate the room,” says Travis. “We needed to be able to go from really loud to super intimate within a second and allow the audience’s ears to settle into that adjustment. It took a little while to figure out how we would accomplish that without losing any energy and without having the audience members miss a single word.”
For Travis, equipment selection proved essential to the show’s success. He found what he was looking for with a speaker system featuring d&b audiotechnik products. The sound system features a Q-Series rig, along with E3 loudspeakers for delays and B2 subwoofers. “In a matter of one minute, the actors can go through 10 songs, and, stylistically, each song is 100 percent different,” adds Travis. “It can range from something that pays homage to Queen and Bruce Springsteen, to 80s metal bands and country music. Dynamically, the shifts are huge, and the d&b system allowed us to really bring out the style of the various music genres in a rapid succession.”
Additionally, Travis wanted to ensure that no microphones were visible on the cast during the production, so he relied on Sennheiser MKE1 Professional Lavalier Microphones, along with one of Masque Sound’s pre-built Sennheiser 2000 Series wireless transmitter kits. Designed for quick and easy dispatch, Masque Sound’s pre-built kits provide 24 wireless channels and are targeted for the Off Broadway and regional markets. The orchestra was mic’ed with DPA 4011 Cardioid Microphones, DPA 4099 Instrument Microphones, Schoeps MK4 Cardioid Capsules and Beyerdynamic M 160 Hypercardioid Ribbon Microphones. Masque Sound also provided an Avid VENUE SC48 digital console.
Since the orchestra is present on stage, with musicians spread between a few small pods, Travis wanted the sound design to creatively capture and evoke a natural and intimate sound. To accomplish this, he utilized a Meyer Sound LCS LX-300 delay matrix. “We wanted the orchestra to be able to go from a chamber sounding musical, involving violin, cello, guitar, bass, drums and piano, to a heavy rock sound,” he says. “We used the delay matrix to time every single instrument on stage so that when we were amplifying it, it really sounded like it was coming from the specific instrument. We also divided the stage into zones, which ensures that the engineer has a lot of cues for the actors.”
Furthermore, with regards to timing, this production requires that the audio is perfectly synched up to the show’s video images. Travis relied on MIDI to achieve this, using one big MIDI loop to ensure that the design teams could send information back and forth. This was an easy way to simplify a very technically challenging show on an Off-Broadway budget.
“This was a great team effort,” concludes Travis. “My associate, Justin Stasiw, A1 Jillian Walker and A2 Laura Brauner all did a wonderful job, and it was terrific that the whole design team was able to come together for this fun and original production. Masque Sound was once again great to work with and very accommodating in providing me with the equipment I wanted to use.”
FOUND began previews on September 18 and is slated to run through November 9 at The Atlantic Theater Company’s Linda Gross Theater, located at 336 West 20th Street in Manhattan. To learn more about FOUND, visit atlantictheater.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.