NEW YORK — When the curtain rose on The Mystery of Love & Sex at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, was on-hand to provide Daniel Kluger, sound designer and composer, with a custom audio equipment package that would allow audiences to explore this new drama.
The Mystery of Love & Sex is the story of four individuals whose lives remain inextricably intertwined over time. Charlotte and Jonny are two college students and long-time friends since the age of nine. As their relationship turns romantic, despite Charlotte’s parents’ objections, an onslaught of truths about their past is unleashed, threatening not only their relationship with each other, but their relationships with their families as well.
Kluger’s goal in the sound design was to create an elegant and dynamically versatile soundscape to support scene changes. “I needed a system that could deliver even coverage with high fidelity, and the dynamic equipment package that Masque Sound provided allowed me to do that.”
In addition to the show’s storytelling, the layout of the theater also presented its own opportunity to Kluger. “The Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater is a unique thrust space that I chose to treat as a large circle,” he says. “We covered every seat with the center cluster, while at the same time extending the surround system a full 360 degrees around the room by treating the upstage speakers as an extension of that system. It’s about creating a feeling of inclusion. The relationship between what you are hearing in front of you and behind you is constantly shifting depending on where in the circle you lie and where the point of focus is on stage.”
For this production, the fundamental principle is to have a channel on the center of the room and then an outer orbit. In order to help bring this to life, Masque Sound provided Kluger with a Yamaha CL1 Digital Mixing Console. Because of the number of speaker boxes necessary for the system of concentric circles, along with the fact that the show is primarily playback, Kluger needed a lot of timing and control, which the CL1 expertly provided.
Additionally, the speaker package that Masque Sound provided is primarily composed of d&b audiotechnik speakers with a center cluster of Q7s, a B4 subwoofer and a delay field of E3s and E0s for surrounds. “The d&b speakers provide warmth and clarity and make such a big difference, and I am thrilled that Masque Sound was able to supply them,” he adds.
In addition to designing the sound for the show, Kluger also created the production’s original score. Kluger wrote half a dozen pieces of music and ended up using one as the primary source material for the design. In creating the playback score, Kluger collaborated with a talented group of musicians, the Momenta Quartet, celebrated for its innovative programming, juxtaposing contemporary works from widely divergent aesthetics with great music from the past.
“Masque Sound has an excellent inventory, and they are continuously growing so there are always new tools to work with,” concludes Kluger. “Masque Sound understands what it takes for a sound designer to be successful, and on this production, we essentially got everything we wanted. It’s been a pleasure to work with them once again. In addition, Ben Truppin-Brown, my assistant sound designer, and Stephen Bettridge, my production audio engineer, both did absolutely fantastic work.”
The Mystery of Love & Sex officially opens on March 2 at the Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, located on 150 West 65th Street in Manhattan. Previews began February 5. For more information, visit www.lct.org.