WILLIAMSTOWN, MA, AUGUST 17, 2015 — When some of the theatre world’s biggest and brightest stars descended upon Northwest Massachusetts for the 61st season of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, once again returned to the cherished venue with a custom audio equipment package to support Sound Supervisor Ben Truppin-Brown’s vision. This marks the 12th year that Masque Sound has been providing audio services and support to the festival.
Since 1955, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought America’s finest actors, directors, designers and playwrights to the Berkshires, engaging a loyal audience of both residents and summer visitors. Each season is designed to present unique opportunities for artists and audiences alike, revisiting classic plays with innovative productions, developing and nurturing bold new plays and musicals, and offering a rich array of cultural events including Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops and educational programs. The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s 2015 season schedule brings a number of famous faces to the Berkshire stage with stars such as Kyra Sedgwick, Cynthia Nixon, Audra McDonald and Will Swenson appearing in a variety of plays on the Main and Nikos Stages.
Truppin-Brown’s goal in designing the sound for the 2015 season was twofold. He wanted to create a simple, comprehensive repertory sound system that addressed the basic needs of each space, while maintaining the flexibility to accommodate the specific needs of each individual production. It was also important that the systems be different enough so that the staff and interns are exposed to a wide range of equipment to cater to the varying experience-level of the team.
One of the biggest challenges Truppin-Brown faced in designing the sound for Williamstown was the short 24-hour turnover time between productions. “The schedule at Williamstown is insanely variable, and terribly complex to navigate,” says Truppin-Brown. “It changes quickly and often, and we have to remain flexible enough to accommodate the various, sudden shifts throughout the day. The work we do with Masque Sound, both before the season begins and during the summer, allows us to respond quickly and efficiently to those changes as they occur.”
This summer, the Main Stage’s system, provided by Masque Sound, was comprised of a Yamaha CL1 console, a Yamaha DME64N for signal processing and for a delay matrix, a Yamaha Rio 3224-D for additional I/O, and a Meyer Sound ULTRA Series main PA. Meyer Sound UPQ-1P’s drive the bulk of the system, with a mix of UPJ-1P and UPM-2P fills. The low frequency is provided by a pair of 600-HP’s on the ground and a pair of UMS-1p’s in the air. Under-balcony delays are EAW JF60’s. Several DPA 4021s are used in various configurations for area reinforcement and an 8-channel Sennheiser EM 1046-RX diversity receiver is used for various wireless needs, with SK 5012 body pack transmitters and several SKM 300 handheld transmitters. Signal distribution is all handled over a redundant Dante network. This allowed Truppin-Brown to phase out a good amount of cable that was so heavily relied upon in the past. A spare stock of Meyer Sound and EAW speakers complements this system for show-specific needs.
The Nikos Stage system includes a Yamaha CL5 console, a Rio 3224-D for the main patch, two Meyer Sound Galileo 616 processors, four d&b audiotechnik D12 amplifiers, four d&b D6 amplifiers, several d&b E-PAC amplifiers, and several Lab Grüppen FP2400Q amplifiers. The main PA is made up of d&b audiotechnik E12s left and right with E8s on center, and a pair of B2-subs underneath the deck. Surrounds and rears are L-Acoustics MTD108a’s. Signal is once again distributed over Dante, making additions simple and efficient. This summer, Truppin-Brown was also able to incorporate d&b Audiotechnik’s R1 amplifier control software into the Nikos system. It is an extremely powerful tool, allowing convenient and customizable access to the DSP built into the stages’ d&b amplifiers.
For Unknown Soldier, the newest musical on the Nikos stage, Masque Sound provided 20 channels of wireless via Sennheiser EM3532 with SK 5012 wireless transmitters, a large and comprehensive microphone package, two additional Rio 3224-D’s in remote locations added to the existing Dante network, and a new system of loudspeakers. Leon Rothenberg, the sound designer, was happy to take advantage of the existing d&b audiotechnik amplification in the room. He specified d&b Q10’s as mains, a compact, three-box d&b Q1 array at center, six d&b E0 front fills, four d&b E0 box fills, two d&b E3 wide delays, and a single d&b T10 center delay. Onstage foldback was handled by d&b E3’s and E0’s, and upstage effects were driven by d&b E8’s.
“From the first, casual conversation with Scott Kalata at Masque Sound about our system needs, to the daily interactions with John Sullivan (our sales rep) and Tara Perez (our show key) in the Masque Sound shop, to the constant support received throughout the summer, Masque Sound has been extremely supportive and infinitely accessible,” adds Truppin-Brown. “On location Stephen Dee, the Main Stage associate sound supervisor and Adrianna Brannon, the Nikos associate sound supervisor, have been absolutely invaluable, and have been working with me since March to design and implement these systems. The equipment at this year’s festival was selected with very specific goals in mind, and working with everyone there to accomplish those goals was a pleasure. Masque Sound is endlessly accommodating and the quality of support we receive is unparalleled.”
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 led by President Stephanie Hansen and the firm’s third generation owner, Geoff Shearing. 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.