When William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet made its triumphant return to the Broadway stage for the first time in 36 years, Sound Designer (composer and percussionist) David Van Tieghem and Associate Sound Designer David Sanderson turned to Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, to provide a custom audio equipment package for the highly anticipated play.
Romeo and Juliet, one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, revolves around two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. This revival, directed by five-time Tony® nominee David Leveaux, retains Shakespeare’s language while moving the setting to contemporary times by portraying the warring Montagues and Capulets as families of different ethnicities.
For Van Tieghem and Sanderson, the overall design goal was to create an eclectic mix of sound drawn from both traditional and modern stagings of the play. “This contemporary Romeo and Juliet is unique in that it’s a play that features a live cello player and live percussionist (Van Tieghem) playing primal drums for a hip-hop feel, so it is quite different then the classic Romeo and Juliet,” says Van Tieghem. “Because various live elements are involved along with previously recorded electronic and orchestral music elements, sound design was a little more complicated and required us to use a larger system than one would expect for a non-musical. Masque Sound did a fantastic job and provided all of the gear we needed to achieve our vision.”
Romeo and Juliet is playing at Broadway’s storied Richard Rodgers Theatre. As the larger venue is usually home to musicals, Van Tieghem and Sanderson wanted to ensure that the actors’ voices projected throughout the entire seating area with absolute clarity. In order to make that happen, Masque Sound provided an extensive vocal reinforcement system. “A lot of times you can hide microphones on stage, but since Romeo and Juliet does not feature a lot of stage props, Masque Sound provided us with DPA vocal microphones, which we placed along the lip of the stage,” adds Van Tieghem.
Among the stage props for Romeo and Juliet is a large amount of sand. To keep the microphones from getting clogged, Masque Sound provided windscreens for the microphones, as well.
In addition to the DPA microphones, Masque supplied several Shure and AKG microphones, as well as Sennheiser cabled and wireless microphones. The custom equipment package also included a Digico SD8 digital console, along with XTA audio management processing systems. The speaker package featured Meyer Sound UPM-1Ps, UPM-2Ps, UPQ-1Ps and a 600-HP high-powered subwoofer. The production crew also utilizes D&B and EAW speakers, and employed Sennheiser and Clear-Com headsets for the show’s intercom. Masque Sound also provided all cabling and associated equipment.
Van Tieghem also appreciates Masque Sound’s reliability and flexibility. “They were renovating the theatre as we were loading in, which drastically reduced our available space on-site. In a project like this, where we are strapped for time and space, Masque Sound really helped us out by not only housing the equipment until we were ready for it, but also taking the time preparing the gear and making sure what we got was what we asked for. We always like working with Masque Sound. They do a consistently great job.”
Romeo and Juliet opened on Thursday, September 19, 2013, and is playing a limited engagement at the Richard Rodgers Theatre through Sunday, January 12, 2014. The production stars Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean, the Lord of the Rings) and two-time Tony Award® nominee Condola Rashad (Stick Fly, The Trip to Bountiful) as the title characters. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com/1-800-745-3000, or at the Richard Rodgers Theatre Box Office (226 West 46th Street, New York City).
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.