When The Landing, the first collaboration between legendary theater composer John Kander and gifted playwright Greg Pierce, arrived at New York’s Vineyard Theatre on October 3rd, Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, was on board to provide sound designer Nevin Steinberg with a custom audio equipment package for the new musical.
A beautiful and haunting new musical, The Landing comprises three thematically connected tales of desire, love and loss. Starring Tony- and Emmy Award-winner David Hyde Pierce, along with Julia Murney, Paul Anthony Stewart and Frankie Seratch, and directed by Tony Award-winner Walter Bobbie, The Landing is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.
In designing the sound for The Landing, Steinberg wanted to maintain a very natural feel. “The Vineyard is a very small, intimate theater, and the play itself is a four-character musical with a four-piece orchestra, so my hope was to create an unobtrusive amplification system,” he says. “Of course, speaker selection was very important. The speakers I chose for this production supply a very diffuse amplification. It’s just a little bit unfocused, and I find that in a small space that tends to work pretty well.”
Steinberg employed several speakers from L-ACOUSTICS, including the company’s 112Ps and 108As. “These L-ACOUSTICS models provide a very pleasing sound and a very wide dispersion pattern both horizontally and vertically,” he adds. “I knew that they would work well for this project, so I was very specific about what I wanted. As always, Masque Sound was happy to fulfill this request. We’ve worked on various projects throughout the years, and they’ve always been very supportive and attentive to the needs of the production and also to me, the designer. I really value my relationship with everyone there.”
One of the main challenges that Steinberg faced focused on where to put the musicians, since the Vineyard Theatre has no dedicated orchestra pit. To overcome this, Steinberg split the orchestra into two halves and placed them in the balconies on the house left and right side of the audience. He positioned the percussionist and piano player/conductor on one side and the woodwind and cello players on the other. While this is often not the preferred setup as it can make communication difficult, in the case of The Landing, it suited the style of the production very well. Masque Sound was able to assist this unconventional setup by providing each musician with an audio and video monitor, so that each player could clearly see the conductor and have his and her own audio mix.
Masque Sound’s custom audio equipment package also included an AVID SC-48 compact digital console, which Steinberg likes for its great routing and effects options. The orchestra is reinforced using DPA and Neumann microphones. Because the actors are continuously onstage throughout the show, each performer is double mic’d with a combination of DPA and Sennheiser wireless microphones. Masque Sound also provided frequency coordination for the 10 channels of wireless in use.
“One of the nice things about Masque Sound is that when there is a challenge or a budgetary issue, they are very quick to help solve the problem,” notes Steinberg. “They always offer good solutions, and having them as the rental shop on my projects allows me to focus on other issues and not have to worry about anything related to the equipment. They consistently do a wonderful job.”
The Landing had its world premiere on October 3rd and is slated to run through November 24th at the Vineyard Theatre, located on 108 East 15th Street in downtown Manhattan in the heart of historic Union Square.
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.