NEW YORK — As the hit musical Guys and Dolls toe-taps its way across the United States on its 49-city tour, Sound Designer Ed Chapman collaborated with Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, on a custom audio equipment package to help audiences across the country celebrate Broadway’s golden era for this timeless classic.
Bustling with gamblers, gangsters and sassy showgirls, Guys and Dolls features one of the greatest scores ever written for a musical by the legendary Frank Loesser, masterfully witty book and lyrics by Joe Swerling and comedy legend Abe Burrows, and the glorious Damon Runyon’s comic book world of 1940s Times Square New York City. Considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy, Guys and Dolls introduces audiences to a cast of characters who have become legends in the musical theatre world.
“The tour consists of one-night performances in each city, so one of my main goals was to design a system that would be able to be unpacked, set up, taken down and loaded into the truck quickly, easily and efficiently,” says Chapman. “Putting together a flexible system allows the road crew to concentrate on each venue and provide the audience with the best listening experience possible. Masque Sound was instrumental in providing a package that accommodated our needs.”
In consultation with Masque Sound, Chapman chose to use a Yamaha CL5 digital mixing console for the production. The CL5 was the ideal choice for this tour, as it is a small, networked console that significantly reduces the amount of cable required, yet still provides a 72-channel format.
In addition to the tour’s grueling schedule, another one of Chapman’s obstacles was dealing with a range of different sized venues. “The big challenge in designing a great sound system is that in addition to doing one-nighters, the size of the venues change quite drastically,” says Chapman. “The venues on the tour are averaging about 1,200 seats, but some are much smaller and others are as large as 3,000 seats. Accommodating this range can be very tricky, especially when taking into consideration that our space on the truck remains the same throughout the tour.”
For the tour, Masque Sound provided a Meyer Sound speaker package, including Meyer Sound Mica array loudspeakers placed in custom towers, a M’elodie center cluster and M1Ds for front fills. “I chose the Mica towers, because they are a very high-quality speaker,” adds Chapman. “We use them in a left/right configuration, but they can be broken down and used in three or four configurations depending on the venue, and that is key. This provides incredible sound to the various sized venues and was worth losing some space on the truck to give the audience what they deserve to hear.”
Masque Sound also provided a selection of microphones, including DPA d:screet™ 4061 Miniature Microphones for the actors, as well as Sennheiser MKE 1s and 2s. Chapman used a selection of Shure and AKG microphones for the nine-piece orchestra. Masque Sound also supplied its expert RF frequency coordination for the tour, including 32 channels of Sennheiser wireless.
“What makes this tour unique are the logistics,” concludes Chapman. “Masque Sound made my job incredibly easy, and they were fantastic to work with once again; Gary Stocker and the rest of the crew at Masque Sound were great. My team and I did not have to sacrifice anything. My production engineer, Jeremy Aleksa, mix engineer, Harry Platt, and A2, Renee Levine, also did a great job in bringing it all together.”
Guys and Dolls originally conquered Broadway in 1951, running for 1200 performances and winning five Tony® Awards including Best New Musical. It was subsequently made into the beloved film starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.
Guys and Dolls is a presentation of Big League Productions, Inc (www.bigleague.org). The tour, which kicked off on December 26, 2014 in Naples, Florida is currently scheduled to wrap up on May 22, 2015 in New London, Connecticut. The tour will make stops in 49 cities including El Paso, Santa Barbara, Phoenix, Reno, Portland and Spokane. For more information, please visit www.guysanddollsontour.com.