When the 2013/2014 North American touring production of the smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! kicked off at Clemson University’s Brooks Center on September 30th, Associate Sound Designer David Patridge turned to Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, to provide a custom audio equipment package to bring Sound Designers Bobby Aitken and Andrew Bruce’s vision to the stage.
Since 1999, the musical MAMMA MIA! has been captivating audiences in London, Toronto, Broadway and all over the world, as it tells the story of the dynamic relationship between a carefree mother and her daughter. The daughter, hoping to build a bond with the father she’s never known, decides to invite him to her upcoming wedding, only to discover that her father could be one of her mother’s three past suitors. A story full of laughs, love and lust, MAMMA MIA! features the hit songs of the Swedish pop group ABBA.
This mark’s Patridge’s 12th MAMMA MIA! production in 14 years, as associate sound designer, and although he is intimately familiar with the show, the 2013/2014 North American tour was not without its obstacles.
“The challenge for this incarnation of the musical was to take the signature MAMMA MIA! sound and put it into a more compact, fast-moving production without cutting the things you need to make the show sound big,” says Patridge. “Just because the show is moving from city to city quickly doesn’t mean the size of the venue is going to be small. It was important that we did not downscale the brand or incur any kind of loss of feel for the amazing show that MAMMA MIA! is. Thanks to the help of the talented professionals at Masque Sound, we didn’t compromise on anything. The show looks and sounds great.”
In order to keep that big sound Patridge was looking for, Masque Sound provided Meyer M’elodie speakers, the largest speakers that could feasibly be put in a tower footprint, yet still fit in all of the smaller theatres on the tour. “We took the footprint that we were allowed based on the technical director’s specs and then we looked at speaker choices,” adds Patridge. “We went with self-powered M’elodie speakers, so we wouldn’t need amplifier racks, which take up extra room in the truck and extra time to connect. We used the M’elodie and Meyer 500HP powered speakers in a tower arrangement, giving us a lot of impact for the size of the footprint. Whether we need to figure out the sizes of trussing needed, engineering concerns, dolly selection, etc., Masque Sound has always been fantastic with figuring out all of the details and on a traveling production that is extremely important.”
In addition to the Meyer M’elodie and 500HP speakers, Patridge also used Meyer 700HP subs, as well as Meyer UPM-1Ps for front fills and under the balconies. Masque Sound provided a DiGiCo SD10 digital console, because the compact size and powerful features of the console make it ideal for a traveling production. In addition, the actors are outfitted with DPA 4060-61 omnidirectional mics. Masque Sound also provided Sennheiser 5212 radios with Sennheiser EM3532 receivers.
“One of the things about Masque Sound that I like is that there is a valuable brain trust of people,” says Patridge. “Professionals like Gary Stocker are not afraid to help partner with us as designers and invent solutions, so I don’t have to be on my own when I’m trying to figure out how to support these speakers and towers, especially on a production that moves from city to city. I know I can ask Gary what we can do to facilitate my vision, and the people at Masque Sound will design and fabricate whatever I need. In addition, Eric Rivera at Masque Sound does an excellent job of coordinating the frequencies from stop to stop. He has the itinerary in hand and is constantly forwarding the list of frequencies to our road personnel. Fortunately, Masque Sound uses all the tools at hand, including FCC charts and intermod study programs, and if there is a problem with anything, I know that they will pick up the phone or answer an email to get us out of a bind.”
Seen by over 54 million people around the world, MAMMA MIA! is celebrating 5,000 performances on Broadway and is the 10th longest running show in Broadway history. The original West End production of MAMMA MIA! is now in its fifteenth year and has celebrated over 6,000 performances in London and the international tour has visited more than 74 foreign cities in 35 countries and been seen by over 4.3 million people. The blockbuster feature film adaptation of MAMMA MIA! is the most successful movie musical of all time grossing $600 million worldwide. Seen in 38 productions in 14 different languages globally and with a worldwide gross of over $2 Billion, MAMMA MIA! is acclaimed by the Associated Press as “quite simply, a phenomenon.”
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.