SAN DIEGO, CA, OCTOBER 14, 2014 - When Sound Designer Nevin Steinberg was in search of a stellar sound system for Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s world premiere American musical, Bright Star, he turned to Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, to provide a dynamic custom audio equipment package.
Playing at the San Diego Old Globe Theatre and inspired by Martin and Brickell’s Grammy® Award-winning collaboration Love Has Come For You, Bright Star features 20 new songs and tells a beguiling tale that unfolds in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina between 1923 and 1945. Billy Cane, a young soldier who just returned from World War II, meets Alice Murphy, the brilliant editor of a southern literary journal. Together, they discover a powerful secret that alters their lives. Tony Award®-winning director Walter Bobbie makes his Old Globe Theatre debut with this entertaining musical of enduring love, family ties and the light of forgiveness that shines from a bright star.
“Working with such legendary and talented artists, there was a lot of pressure to deliver something special in the sound design that would capture the excitement of Steve and Edie’s latest creative venture,” says Steinberg. “The show’s music is rooted in bluegrass, which isn’t typical for a theatre setting, so I knew that the sound system designed to communicate this music couldn’t be typical either. The show called for something with incredible warmth and high resolution in order to properly convey this music to the audience, which proved to be one of the project’s biggest challenges.”
For Steinberg, part of overcoming this challenge was deciphering which loudspeaker system would best deliver the show’s bluegrass tunes. “When choosing a loudspeaker system, it was important to take into account the different brands of speaker systems currently on the market and the pros and cons of each when fitted into the Old Globe Theatre’s specific layout,” adds Steinberg.
After careful deliberation, and drawing from personal listening experience, Steinberg chose Alcons Audio’s speaker technology. “Alcons Audio is one of the only companies to have successfully incorporated ribbon drivers into its line array systems, which is an incredible feat,” Steinberg says. “The resolution is very high, and, overall, the speakers help to raise the quality we can expect of the audio re-production. Though Alcons Audio is a relative newcomer to the theatre market, once I connected the company with Masque Sound, the team there made sure that the Alcons Audio system was properly prepped in the shop to fit seamlessly with the rest of my custom audio equipment package.”
Aside from the intricacies of the show’s music compositions, the split orchestra also posed a challenge. Bright Star’s orchestra is composed of nine musicians—five play acoustic instruments onstage, while an additional four play from a remote location off-stage. To make matters even more complicated, the musicians onstage perform on a moving platform. The staging and movement prevented the use of any trailing cable, so the sound system, including all instrumentation, amplification and monitoring components, had to be wireless. Furthermore, IEMs and an Aviom system were required to synthesize the remote musicians and onstage orchestra into one, coherent group.
To bring Steinberg’s vision for the orchestra to life, Masque Sound provided eight channels of Sennheiser Digital 9000 Wireless Microphone Systems. “The Sennheiser 9000 has been a game changer,” says Steinberg. “It sounds so good, we forget that it’s wireless. While working on the designing the show, I was keen to try some other new equipment, which is why I was thrilled when Masque Sound connected me to K-array, which supplied me with a low-profile speaker system for stage monitoring. I had been enthusiastic about their products for just such an application. Masque Sound has always bent over backwards to help me forge relationships with new manufacturers and, subsequently, keep me abreast of the latest audio equipment developments. This is a perfect example of a situation in which I had a wish list and Masque Sound helped turn those wishes into reality.”
Additionally, Masque Sound supplied Steinberg with a DiGiCo SD10T Live Digital Console, DPA 4011 microphones for the remote orchestra, additional Sennheiser wireless systems and DPA lavalier microphones for the cast and Shure UHF-R® Wireless Microphone Systems for a few of the instruments on the bandstand, as well as Sennheiser in-ear monitor systems.
“Masque Sound is part of a great audio team assembled for this production, which includes our mixing engineer, Scott Sanders, and my longtime associate, Jason Crystal, who each played an integral part in ensuring the show’s success,” adds Steinberg. “And the staff and crew at the Old Globe Theatre have been great to work with throughout this journey. I can’t wait to see what happens next with this beautiful show.”
Bright Star runs through November 2 at the Old Globe Theatre.
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.