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Everything’s alright with Martin Audio in Jesus Christ Superstar musical

The new production was held in Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, with sell out crowds of 1250 attending the show

With one of the largest single-level auditoria in London, and the oldest permanent outdoor theatre in the UK, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre (OAT) has used Martin Audio’s W8LM Mini Line Array over the last five years.

Autograph Sound designer Nick Lidster has specified that the OAT amplify all their shows, and the summer season finale is always a full scale musical. When it came to the six-week run of the new production of Jesus Christ Superstar, under the direction of Timothy Sheader, he knew that with sell-out audiences of 1250 expected every night in the fan-shaped auditorium, he needed something that would emulate the classic rock sound that had characterised the original album, featuring Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan in the lead role, 46 years ago.

Says Lidster: “For this version of JCS, Tim Sheader wanted to go back and explore the sentiment and fresh feel of the original progressive rock concept album. I grew up with early ‘70s prog rock of Genesis and Yes, and my love of prog and understanding of why those amazing bands sounded so good live seemed the most authentic approach to adopt, to rediscover this very original and classic show. I felt that the MLA array was the right sounding loudspeaker system for the job and it offered me the most control and consistency of sound for the auditorium.”

With the contouring of the theatre seating bowl area, set in deep parkland, Lidster wanted to use the Display onboard control software. “I felt that if we were going to deliver a big sounding show we would need to control the spill. We did not want ‘killer’ volume levels, but I did want dynamic, clear, hi-fi sound, delivered with high intensity in every seat,” he says.

He specified the MLA Compact, knowing its high degree of controllability would be ideal for this unique theatre, where the distance between stage and auditorium perimeter was no more than 35m. He rigged ten MLA Compact per side and six MLX subs in a reverse cardioid design, two stacks of three per side.

Lidster says: “We programmed just a 3dB variation from front to back of the auditorium so that I had a massive and consistent sound everywhere; the show ran at around 95dB average.”

William Village, executive director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre comments: “In creating the gig-like vibe for Jesus Christ Superstar, it was important to us to use a sound system which would support that production vision. Martin Audio took up this challenge and delivered a sound system of excellence, showcasing our performers, rock musicians, and the iconic lyrics and music of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.”