NEW YORK, MARCH 12, 2015 — When New World Stages, the renowned performing arts complex in the heart of New York City’s theater district, recently premiered its newest production, Nevermore – The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, compiled an eerily good custom audio equipment package to support Sound Designer Wade Staples’ vision.
Dark and dazzling, beautiful and bizarre, Nevermore – The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe uses haunting music, a complex soundscape, and stunning stagecraft to tell the life story of the tormented yet visionary writer who has fascinated the world for more than a century. Blurring the line between fact and fiction, nightmare and waking life, Nevermore is a unique theatrical experience that takes audiences on an unforgettable journey.
No stranger to Nevermore, Staples designed the sound for all of the show’s previous productions and tours and was excited to design the sound for this latest off-Broadway version. “One of my main goals was to make sure that every person in the audience can clearly hear the story that is being told,” says Staples. “Since there was no existing full audio system in place at New World Stages, we needed to design one that would optimize the sound in the space, provide full coverage from over balcony to under balcony and serve the needs of the production and its audiences. Masque Sound put together the package that we needed to be successful.”
One of Staples’ biggest challenges in designing the sound was the production’s continuing evolution. “Having a flexible system that works well and can adapt to the progressive changes of the play is very important,” he says. “Nevermore successfully toured using the Yamaha DM2000 console, so bringing the console to New World Stages made logical sense and allowed for some programming continuity and integration of the music and sound effects playback systems.”
For the speaker package, Staples drew from his system design background, along with the experience of the production sound company and team that had previously worked at New World Stages. As a result, Staples’ speaker package mainly consists of an assortment of Meyer Sound. “With Meyer’s products, I am able to take the CAD files of the venue and set and put them into Meyer’s MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction software program to do a lot of modeling,” he says. “I have found with their equipment that I can walk into the space, and the response I am going to get is very accurate.”
The full speaker package supplied by Masque Sound included Meyer Sound CQ-1 loudspeakers for the orchestra left, right and center down fill. The mezzanine utilized CQ-2s on the left and right and a CQ-1 for the center. Front fills were Meyer Sound MM-4s, which were used for the first few rows to pull the image down. Additionally, Masque Sound provided Meyer Sound UPM-1Ps to use as on-stage speakers for on-stage monitoring and effects. The team utilized a USW-1P sub upstage center, Meyer Sound 500-HP subwoofers for the mains with UPM-1Ps for the over balcony and under balcony. Eastern Acoustic Works JF60zs complemented the package and were used for surrounds.
Masque Sound provided several microphones including Sennheiser MKE 2 Gold microphones and 10 channels of Sennheiser wireless, as well as its expert RF frequency coordination for the production. From a creative standpoint, Staples wanted to utilize a combination of different effects on the microphones to try to engulf the audience and create a storybook feel. To accomplish this, delay and reverb were heavily used within the surround sound system to help pull the listener into the story while, at the same time, keeping the vocals clear.
“This production was a wonderful collaboration with a lot of talented people,” concludes Staples. “Joshua Reid, my assistant sound designer and A1, worked closely with Masque Sound to build the equipment package specified, and his knowledge of the venue and mixing expertise was extremely helpful. My A2 Chet Miller also did an excellent job looking after the cast and the RF microphones. In addition, Masque Sound’s commitment to respecting the wishes of the designer is great. They worked toward the budget and put together great packages in the shop so that when we got to the installation, we were able to plug in the equipment and everything worked spectacularly.”
Nevermore – The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe began preview performances on January 14, officially opened on January 25, and will play through March 29 at New World Stages, located at 340 West 50th Street in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.NevermoreShow.com.