Mattel’s universally beloved Barbie™ and Ken™ dolls are performing across Asia in the stage production Barbie Live! For the young audience in this family show, sound designer Kai Harada has built a sound system based on the Meyer Sound M’elodie® line array loudspeaker. Equipment provider is Orlando, Fla.-based Show Systems.
“It’s a dance-heavy show,” says Harada, “so we needed a robust system that would cover large theatres or smaller arenas with exceptional clarity—but at levels appropriate for children’s ears. I knew that a M’elodie rig would give us those qualities, as well as the flexibility to adapt to different venues.”
The show uses up to 24 M’elodie loudspeakers that can be configured as either left-right or left-centre-right arrays, depending on the venue. The system also includes two 600-HP subwoofers, 16 UPJunior™ VariO™ loudspeakers for foldback, delay, and fill, 10 UPM-1P loudspeakers for front fill, and eight MM-4 loudspeakers for offstage foldback. A Galileo® loudspeaker management system with one Galileo 408 and two Galileo 616 processors supplies system drive and optimization.
“From my experience, M’elodies are exactly what shows like this need,” says Harada. “They are highly controllable, with excellent vertical focusing. They are also reliable, and that comfort factor is critical.”
Harada’s long-time associate Douglas Graves assisted with show design and the initial system alignment in Singapore. Traveling with the tour are FOH engineer Tristan Jackson and systems tech Andrea Espinosa.
“Galileo gives us the option to make design changes from city to city very easily,” says Frank Snipes, vice president of Show Systems, who coordinated tour audio logistics. “Coupled with self-powered loudspeakers, Galileo allows the road crew to reconfigure the system as needed, with absolutely minimum hassle.”
The tour carries a DiGiCo SD9 console with MADI-linked dual Pro Tools systems for audio playback. Cast principals sing live using Shure UR-1 wireless bodypack transmitters with Countryman B6 omni microphones. Dialogue tracks for most Asian shows are pre-recorded in the native language. Actors on stage mime the dialogue, staying in sync by following low-volume English tracks played on the MM-4 foldback loudspeakers.
Barbie Live! is produced by EMS Entertainment, in association with Mattel Live Entertainment. Opening in Singapore, the tour includes Thailand and China, followed by Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand through 2014. North American and European tours are in development for later in 2014.