New York, NY (June 28, 2016)—Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s new Broadway musical, Bright Star, hit the Great White Way in March only to close this past weekend. Along for the ride has been sound designer Nevin Steinberg and theatrical sound provider Masque Sound.
The venue was one of Steinberg’s biggest obstacles when moving the show to Broadway. “The biggest challenge was mostly real estate. The Cort is a small theatre, and while Bright Star appears to be a small or modest musical, there is a lot going on behind the scenes,” says Steinberg. “Managing the theatre size and the equipment from all the departments, including lighting, automation and the sound department, was a challenge at first, but was ultimately very successful. In the end, the venue helped with the appearance of lightness for the production, which is something that we were all striving to achieve. Our goal with the sound design was to try and do right by the score and blend the unusual appearance of blue grass orchestrations on the Broadway stage. The style of music and quality of the acoustic instrumentation is a delight, and a nice change from a lot of Broadway musicals.”
In order to keep the sound as unobtrusive as possible, Steinberg was able to move the mix position to the rear of the mezzanine. This is an atypical mix position in the Cort Theatre, but is far better than the traditional upper balcony location that is often used for plays. By putting the board off the main floor and out of sight of the patrons, Steinberg was able to create the sense of low-impact sound design that he was going for.
For Bright Star’s move to Broadway, Steinberg started from scratch on the backend of the sound design, which moves out from the console forward to deliver an immersive experience to the audience. “Most of the loudspeaker system that I designed is specifically crafted to suit the architecture of the venue and the audience,” says Steinberg. “The geometry changes drastically from venue to venue, so you have to revisit it every time from the point of view of how to deliver the show to the different audiences, and how to make sure everyone has a great experience.”
For his loudspeaker selection, Steinberg had long been developing a plan to deploy ribbon drivers by way of Alcons Audio. “I thought there was a real affinity between the bluegrass style of music and that style of loudspeaker design,” he says. “It was something I explored during the show’s San Diego run. I was able to plan most of my speaker choices for the Cort Theatre and use a great deal of Alcons Audio equipment, including RR-12s, VR8s and VR12s, which Masque Sound helped me get into use on Broadway. This was the first major deployment of Alcons Audio equipment on a Broadway show and they have worked out incredibly well. Masque Sound fully supported me and made sure that the Alcons system went together in the shop, was prepped properly and came out as part of an integrated package.”
Another component to Steinberg’s sound design was the use of equipment from K-array. “K-array makes some very specialized loudspeaker devices with incredibly low profiles. I’ve been really happy with the performance of them for our front fill system and some of the on-stage monitoring,” says Steinberg. “They are virtually invisible.”
The console is one of the things that remained fairly consistent as the show went from venue to venue. Masque Sound provided a DiGiCo SD-10T and another SD-10 for monitoring. In addition, Steinberg retained much of the microphone selection and monitoring from the San Diego experience, including DPA 4011 microphones for the remote orchestra, with Sennheiser and DPA lavaliers on the cast.