New York, NY (December 9, 2014)—For the U.S. premiere of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the La Jolla Playhouse, five time Tony-award winning sound designer Gareth Owen worked with Masque Sound to handle the audio system.
Based on the Victor Hugo novel and featuring the Oscar-nominated score from the 1996 Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the only stage collaboration from composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz.
“My primary objective in designing the sound is always making sure that the audience can hear all of the words to the story,” says Owen. “It seems obvious, but I cannot tell you the number of shows that I see and can’t clearly hear what the performers are saying. Masque Sound was able to provide me with the equipment I was looking for to attain this sonic clarity and, as a result, allowed us to achieve our goal.”
Another goal of Owen’s was to try to make the show sound exciting from a musical standpoint. “I will often go to a show and see a massive orchestra in the pit, but they might as well not be there,” he says. “Once I’ve made sure the audience can hear all the words, I make a concerted effort to try and make the music as dynamic and involving as possible, as is the case with The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
One of Owen’s biggest challenges in designing the sound for The Hunchback of Notre Dame was found in the acoustics of La Jolla Playhouse. “The one tricky thing about the theatre is that it has very hard walls with lots of reflective surfaces. With all of that sound bouncing around, speaker choice was critical and that’s where the d&b audiotechnik speaker system that Masque Sound supplied really came into its own. I’ve been a huge advocate of d&b for years and find that, when it comes to constant directivity of wave forms and frequency response, d&b speakers are so much more cohesive and accurate.”
The large d&b speaker system that Masque Sound provided included 24 T-Series boxes for stage left and stage right, a T-Series center cluster, as well as Q-Series loudspeakers and B2 subwoofers. The front fills featured E5 loudspeakers, while the out fills were E8 loudspeakers, and E0 loudspeakers comprised the surround sound system. On stage, there was a mixture of E3s, E4s and E5 loudspeakers.
Owen chose an Avid Venue Profile System for the front of house console and utilized another for his monitors. In addition, several Yamaha 01V96 digital mixers were used to sub-mix various aspects of the show, including a 32-piece choir that is present on stage for the duration of the show.
In addition, as part of its custom audio equipment package, Masque Sound provided an extensive microphone package that included DPA, Shure and Audix microphones, as well as 36 channels of wireless featuring Sennheiser EM 3532s and SK 5212 belt packs.