Wicked Wizardry Opens on Broadway

Dec 5, 2003 12:00 PM, Editors


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Broadway’s newest musical, Wicked, opened at The Gershwin Theatre. Comprising a cast of 34 performers with a 24-piece band, the show is mixed through a new 101-slot Cadac J-Type Live Production Console, which was supplied by ProMix-Electrotec. The console was specified with a combo of 35 programmable stereo and mono dual-input modules, 48 standard dual-input modules, 67 motor faders and 14 groups, housed in two frames and controlled via Cadac’s Sound Automation Manager (SAM) software.

According to sound designer Tony Meola, “This show is a real blend of musical styles, with a rock ’n’ roll sound set against a 19th century background. It’s a wonderful mix that goes back to the rock opera style of musical that we first say with Les Mis in the early ’80s, with a little electronic wizardry thrown in for good measure! When we first started work on the show in San Francisco, things were a bit scary, all thanks to the dragon! The dragon is positioned at the center of the proscenium, meaning that we couldn’t position a center cluster as I would prefer. As a result, I used the Meyer M1-D line array for the first time on this show, and it was good to have Meyer just across the Bay [Meyer is located in Berkeley, Calif.] as we experimented with the system for the first time. But it all worked really well, and we got the sound we wanted, which makes the transfer much easier.

“It’s a big show—we have more automated modules on the Cadac than every before—and we had some real fun putting the whole thing together,” he continued. “I wanted to create a mechanical sound to all the effects, using a cacophony of creaking and groaning wood-based sounds to create an eerie impression of the various animals, other strange creatures, the inside workings of the clock, etc. We were able to draw lots of inspiration from the show itself and the set, and it has been really fun—amazing to work on. The Gershwin Theatre has its challenges: It’s a big barn of a space split across two levels, with most of the seats on the lower level, and our sound position is a fair way back in the middle of the stalls. But we have worked things out and the result sounds great. There are a lot of effects and we do a lot of it live during the show. For example, we put the Wizard’s voice out of the sampler dry and then through the effects processor. The tools we have available today let you be creative, as you know you can rely on them and concentrate on what you want to do. I have a terrific team on the show, with associate sound designer Kai Harada, head operator Douglas Graves, plus Jack Babin, Shannon Slaton, Adam Rigby and John Curvan.”

Wicked’s sound system also comprises 36 Sennheiser SK-5012 radio microphones and a comprehensive selection of Meyer Sound loudspeakers, with the M1-D line array system at the core.

For more information, visit www.cadac-sound.com, www.sennheiserusa.com and www.meyersound.com. For more touring news, visit mixonline.com/live_sound_tour_profiles/index.htm.

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