New York, NY (October 11, 2017)—Bette Midler is well-known for her ability to belt a song, but in her current run on Broadway, starting in a revival of Hello Dolly, that admirable skill is one she get to employ as an artistic choice, rather than a technical one.
“Bette has been accustomed to playing big arenas and concert venues for many years,” said Tony Award winning sound designer Scott Lehrer, “so the first thing I had to do was tell her it’s okay to be quiet here if appropriate. She doesn’t need to use her big voice; it will be delivered by [house mixer] Carin Ford and the system. If the intro to a song is ‘conversational,’ then make it conversational level. That took her a while, but she likes it now.”
The house system making that possible inside the Shubert Theater is a sizable d&b audiotechnik rig. “We have developed three different L/R systems, one for each level: orchestra is V7P, mezz’ and balcony use Y8 arrays, plus a split orch/mezz center cluster of V8, delays and fills,” said Lehrer.
Additionally, there are numerous fills, mainly d&b E6s used downstairs and as delays for the mezz’ under-balcony. “I also use three Y7P for delay on the balcony truss,” said Lehrer. “There are E8 sidefills to the extreme corners of the mezz’ and balcony. Frontfills across the stage are E5s.”
For a number of reasons, Lehrer aimed to create an intimate sound for the show by judiciously using the PA: “With such abundant energy available on stage, it’s important to make sure every single audience member gets to enjoy that experience as if they were sat front row center. That’s not only about harnessing the latest technology; the sound designer’s role is as much about managing the performers’ energy. With Bette, that’s a really exciting challenge.”