NEW YORK — In order to create a seamless audio transition for the musical sensation The Visit as it made its highly anticipated journey from the Williamstown Theater Festival to the bright lights of Broadway on April 23, Sound Designer Dan Moses Schreier collaborated with Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company. Together, the two worked on a custom audio equipment package that would help the production, directed by Tony Award® winner John Doyle, settle in for its extended stay at New York’s historic Lyceum Theatre.
Nominated for five Tony Awards®, including Best Musical, The Visit stars Chita Rivera in her juiciest role yet as Claire Zachanassian, the world’s wealthiest woman. She returns home to Anton Schell, portrayed by Roger Rees, who captured her heart and then shatters her dreams. What she does next shocks the town and makes for the most thrilling and intriguing musical in years. From the team that brought you Cabaret, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman, this tale of romance, seduction and betrayal proves that revenge is the best revenge.
“There was enormous pressure in Williamstown to make sure the show was seamless, as we knew the potential to move to Broadway was a distinct possibility,” says Schreier. “At Williamstown, we only had three days to tech the show, which meant that the entire sound system had to be in place and working correctly at the start of rehearsals. Because of its success in Williamstown, the general managers shortened our schedule so that we only had one week of load-in and one week of tech. We had to be extremely organized and have the sound plot worked out beforehand so that we could hit the ground running as soon as we loaded into the theatre. Masque Sound was fantastic in coordinating this with me to ensure that all the equipment I wanted was ready and waiting in perfect condition for our arrival. It was very challenging, but it really turned out great.”
Due to the extremely tight schedule and fast pace of the load-in, Schreier relied on the same scene programming as Williamstown, which led him back to the Yamaha CL5 Digital Mixing Console. “There was a little bit of an unknown element, because this was the first time I used a CL5 for a Broadway show,” he says. “But I’m very happy with the way the show sounds and with how the CL5 has performed. Yamaha has definitely done its homework and came up with a board that sounds very good.”
For the PA system, Masque Sound provided a complete speaker package from Meyer Sound, including UPQ-1P wide coverage loudspeakers along with UPA-1Ps and UPA-2Ps, a UPJ-1P Compact VariO™ loudspeaker and MM-4 miniature wide range loudspeakers. “The sound we get from the Meyer speakers is unbelievably warm and feels very acoustic, which was the wish of John Doyle and our music director, David Loud,” he says. “Even though the story is extremely dark, they wanted it to sound very heartfelt and sincere, and with the equipment that Masque Sound supplied, we were able to achieve that.”
Additionally, Masque Sound supplied a Sennheiser wireless package for the show’s 28 wireless channels, as well as provided its expert frequency coordination services for the production. For the onstage talent and orchestra players, Masque Sound assembled a selection of DPA and Schoeps microphones, including DPA 4011s and 4061s, along with Schoeps MK 5 switchable capsules for the CMC6UXT body. “The DPA 4061 lavalier microphones are very open and warm, so it’s easy to get a very natural sound out of them,” adds Schreier. “For the orchestra, we primarily placed Schoeps on the strings and woodwinds, as I believe these microphones are fantastic for emitting a wonderful, transparent sound. They are the heart of the orchestra rig.”
When designing the sound system for the show, Schreier was continually impressed with the theatre’s remarkable architectural build. “It’s a dream house to work in,” he concludes. “The theatre was built in 1903, when architects carefully thought out acoustical layout, as it boasts an entirely wooden interior. Even the back of the orchestra pit has a curved wall so that the sound projects outward. It was a pleasure to work with Masque Sound to bring my sound vision for this beautiful space to life. The crew offered my team incredible support and they knew exactly what equipment would keep us within our budget while making the show sound fantastic. I’d also like to acknowledge my team, including my associate, Joshua Reid; production sound mixer, Wally Flores; and A2 Brad Gyorgak, who all did a wonderful job.”
The Visit began previews on March 26 and officially opened on April 23 at the Lyceum Theatre, located at 149 West 45th Street in Manhattan. For more information, visit http://thevisitmusical.com/.
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.