New York (May 31, 2007)–It may be a short trip from the off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons theater to the decidedly on-Broadway Walter Kerr Theatre, but it was quite the leap for the new musical, Grey Gardens. The production, which headed Time Magazine’s list of Top Ten theatre shows of 2006 is the first musical to play the 975-seat Kerr Theatre in nearly 20 years. Needing a PA to amply cover the room, sound designer Brian Ronan chose a self-powered system from Meyer Sound.
The cast of Grey Gardens is heard through a Meyer Sound PA.“This show has a very old-school musical feel,” said Ronan, a veteran of more than 20 years in New York’s theatre scene. “There isn’t a lot of spectacle. No more than eight singers are on stage at any particular time, and we have a nine-piece orchestra in a wide, shallow pit. With such a small ensemble, I didn’t want to overwhelm or overpower the audience with sheer volume. Meyer loudspeakers have a very smooth, steady response and sound that are quite pleasing to the ear. That works extremely well for this type of application.”
Ronan chose a straightforward system based around nine UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers and 15 MM-4 miniature wide-range loudspeakers evenly distributed throughout the house, with two USW-1P compact subwoofers covering the low-end duties. One legacy, unpowered UM-1 narrow coverage stage monitor centered above the stage handles downfill, while four UM-1 cabinets provide onstage monitoring for the vocalists.
The Kerr’s superior acoustics helped simplify the tuning process. “The only challenges were a few odd dimensions, the wraparound proscenium, and a rather high, shallow balcony,” says Ronan. “We had to do a little EQ in the rear and in a couple of other zones, but for the most part, we were able to run a lot of the system flat.”
Based on a Maysles brothers 1975 documentary of the same name, Grey Gardens uncovers the eccentric lives of Edith Bouvier Beale and “Little” Edie Beale, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who fell from the elite echelons of high society in the 1940s to a reclusive life of poverty and squalor in the 1970s.