One of this season’s hottest tickets on Broadway is the runaway hit Motown: The Musical, which features a story line that weaves together more than 60 hit songs by the artists that transformed Detroit into a hit-making capital. To accurately transmit music originally created by legends like Diana Ross, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, and others, sound designer Peter Hylenski specified a reinforcement system of Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers.
The sound of Motown has received rave reviews from critics. Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune describes the show’s run at the 1,505-capacity Lunt-Fontanne Theatre as featuring “a top-tier sound system that far exceeds what you usually get on Broadway.”
After applauding “spot on” performances by singers and musicians, Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post says, “All are bolstered by Peter Hylenski’s excellent sound design, a rarity on Broadway. Loud but crisp, it’s a perfect match for the large orchestra’s explosive brass and driving rhythms.”
According to Hylenski, the sound design for Motown brought interesting challenges. “The Lunt is a nice theatre, but is acoustically not the most friendly for a show like Motown. I had to pay careful attention to zoning, allowing maximum flexibility for adjustment of level and tonality using many smaller Meyer Sound loudspeakers. Also, we had a very flexible output structure using D-Mitri®—the heart of the system—and Galileo®.”
The main Meyer Sound system includes front arrays of 14-each M’elodie® line array loudspeakers, a center cluster of six UPJ-1P VariO™ loudspeakers, and four 700-HP subwoofers. An total of 48 additional UPJ-1P and UPJunior™ VariO loudspeakers and UP-4XP, UPM-1P, and UPA-1P loudspeakers are deployed in delay, fill and surround systems, along with six additional 500-HP and M1D-Sub subwoofers.
A D-Mitri digital audio platform is used for signal processing, distribution, and show control, comprising two core processors and seven I-O frames. System drive is supplied by a Galileo loudspeaker management system with three Galileo 616 processors. Keith Caggiano assisted in system design and logistics, and the complete reinforcement system was supplied by PRG Audio.
For Hylenski, the M’elodie loudspeaker arrays provided a solid foundation for the show’s electrifying music. “I’d imagined giving the show a dynamic, visceral sound,” he remarks. “And I knew that the power and control of M’elodie was just what I needed, and in a small package.”
Loosely based on the life of record label founder Berry Gordy, Motown: The Musical is in an open-ended Broadway run, with most shows selling out well in advance.