Masque Sound Captures Vision of Duality for Contemporary New Broadway Musical, If/Then
Custom Audio Solution Provides Flexibility for Original Concept Play
(April 28, 2014)
When the eagerly awaited new musical If/Then arrived on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, was on-hand to provide Tony Award(r)-winning Sound Designer Brian Ronan with the custom audio gear needed to bring his vision to the stage.
If/Then, which began previews on March 5, 2014 and officially opened on March 30, 2014, follows two distinct storylines in the life of 40-year-old Elizabeth (played by Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel), a city planner who moves back to New York to restart her life in the city of infinite possibilities. When Elizabeth's carefully designed plans collide with the whims of fate, her life splits into two parallel paths. If/Then follows both stories simultaneously as this modern woman faces the intersection of choice and chance. Directed by Michael Greif, the musical features book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and theatrical score by Tom Kitt.
If/Then made its pre-Broadway debut last fall at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. where Ronan first collaborated with Masque Sound for the show. Although the venue has changed, Ronan's goal to support the duality of the main character remains the same. "In addition to providing a memorable sonic experience for every seat in the theatre, my goal in designing the sound was to provide a defining quality that separates the parallel lives of the two different people played by the same actress," says Ronan. "In order to accomplish this, my Associate Sound Designer Cody Spencer and I set up different feelings for the various songs sung by the two different characters. This show is a unique, original concept, and Masque Sound was very supportive in providing me the equipment we needed to be successful. In addition, we have David Dignazio, one of the best sound mixers, who is rocking it every night."
Ronan's biggest challenge in designing the sound for the Broadway run was initially the size of the set itself. "If/Then requires a very wide physical opening and our challenge centered in getting positions for the loudspeakers that allowed us to get good coverage throughout the theater," adds Ronan. "We spent a great deal of time talking with Masque Sound about what the show would require, and they were able to supply what we needed."
At the heart of the custom audio package, Masque Sound provided a DiGiCo SD7T digital console, which is Ronan's console of choice. "I really like using the SDT7," Ronan says. "The software and architecture is a hold-over from the old Cadac board and it is very reliable. I also find the SD7T to be very user friendly; and I really enjoy the flexibility it provides, especially on a new show where you have to be ready to make changes on the fly."
Masque Sound also supplied a selection of speakers, including L-Acoustics V-DOSC for the center array to cover the orchestra and mezzanine. Mini Arrays were used for the mezzanine and front and back balconies, as well as a series of d&b audiotechnik E8s, E3s and Meyer Sound UPA and UPJs. The subwoofers include d&b audiotechnik B2s and dV-Subs from L-Acoustics. Masque Sound also provided a wireless package featuring Sennheiser 5212s for the 40 channels of wireless and DPA 4061 microphones.
Another important component to the custom equipment solution that Masque Sound provided, and one that Ronan feels is key to the show's success, is the video distribution package. "An important factor and large part of the budget that falls under the umbrella of sound is the show's utility closed circuit video," adds Ronan. "Issues such as conductor monitoring backstage, so that the off stage performer can see, to switching up, to upgrading to HD video so that our stage manager can get a better shot of the stage when he is up in the wings calling the show, are all part of the sound equipment package. It's not the sexy part, but it's something we have to take care of and supply, and Masque Sound had to do a lot of work to make sure that we had all the latest and greatest video technology. Masque Sound has always been a great shop to work with. They are extremely supportive and once again did a wonderful job."
About Masque Sound
Founded in 1936 by a trio of Broadway stagehands, Masque Sound evolved into one of NYC's most successful theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design companies specializing in theatrical, house of worship, sporting, corporate, TV broadcast and live concert events. Celebrating more than 75 years in the industry, the company is lead by Geoff Shearing, the firm's 3rd generation owner, and Vice President and General Manager Stephanie Hansen. The company also operates Florida-based Professional Wireless Systems, a leader in the development and implementation of wireless technology. Credits range from major Broadway shows and tours including "Phantom of the Opera," "Mamma Mia!," "Lion King," "Jersey Boys," "Memphis," "The Book of Mormon," "Newsies," "Once" and "Kinky Boots" to yearly Super Bowl broadcasts and installations of varying sizes, including New York's New Victory Theater and historic St. Bartholomew's Church. Masque Sound's 70,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters and main assembly facility is located at 21 East Union Ave., East Rutherford, NJ, 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan. For more information, call (201) 939-8666 or visit www.MasqueSound.com.