The music of Queen is once again blaring from stages around the world, but on this go-around it’s a theatrical production, not the band, that’s making audiences stand up and cheer.
Originally staged in London’s West End, where it continues to delight patrons at the Dominion Theatre two years later, We Will Rock You is a lavish futuristic musical set to 25 of Queen’s epic hits that has also enjoyed runs in Melbourne and Madrid.
Now, the latest production and show’s North American debut has recently opened at Paris Las Vegas’ 1,450-seat Le Théâtre Des Arts with an L-ACOUSTICS front-of-house loudspeaker rig.
The new system, furnished by Masque Sound of East Rutherford, New Jersey, features twin left and right hangs of ten V-DOSC® cabinets with two dV-DOSC™ elements for front-fill. Ten additional dV-DOSC are hung as a center array to complete the LCR FOH system, while four compact coaxial MTD108a systems are employed to provide supplementary coverage to the far edges of the audience seating area.
Sound design for We Will Rock You was provided by Sound Designer Bobby Aitken and Associate Sound Designers David Patridge and Richard Sharratt. Aitken and Patridge, in particular, are certainly no strangers to musical theatre; they’ve spent the past five years working together on eight separate productions of Mamma Mia!, which is based on the songs of ABBA.
In fact, it was on the 1999 world premier of Mamma Mia! that Aitken, along with Co-Sound Designer Andrew Bruce, first specified L-ACOUSTICS loudspeakers upon the request of another notable duo. “Björn (Ulvaeus) and Benny (Andersson) from ABBA were the ones who originally turned us on to V-DOSC,” says Aitken. “They had chosen it for a theatre they worked with in Stockholm and really wanted to push the British show of Mamma Mia! in the same direction, so Andrew and I went with their recommendation and were extremely pleased with the results.”
Since then, Aitken has used many different L-ACOUSTICS products on various productions of the two musicals. For example, ARCS® were employed as the main PA speakers for the Madrid run of We Will Rock You, as well as utilized on both touring productions of Mamma Mia! and the new version of London’s Mamma Mia! when the show moved to the Prince of Wales Theatre this past spring.
When the time came to design a rig for We Will Rock You’s Las Vegas production, Aitken, Patridge and Sharratt chose to call upon a line array system with a truly respected rock and roll pedigree: V-DOSC and dV-DOSC.
“Bobby chose to use these speakers primarily for their sound; they really do sound great, especially on a rock musical like this,” notes Patridge, who also serves as the show’s production sound engineer. “There are certainly many other line arrays on the market these days, but we’ve not been impressed enough with anything else to venture outside of a product range that we’ve come to know and like. The L-ACOUSTICS system is solid, performs predictably, and achieves a level of audio that we’re very happy with.
“Plus, we’ve also always felt very well supported by the company, both through people like Paul Bauman in France and Bernie Broderick here in the US. They are always available via cell phone or email when we have questions and have been willing to customize solutions for us when needed. I can’t say enough good things about their support. Many other manufacturers are not nearly that responsive.”
At the same time that Masque Sound procured the L-ACOUSTICS system for We Will Rock You, the company also made a serious investment in V-DOSC and dV-DOSC cabinets to supplement its own live division in New Jersey and Orlando shop.
“With this purchase, I believe that we have the largest arsenal of L-ACOUSTICS products in the world,” says Masque Sound VP/Co-Owner Jim Shearing. “Our current inventory of L-ACOUSTICS products now includes over 100 V-DOSC systems and over 160 dV-DOSC systems. We like them because they sound really clean, provide great coverage and can handle a lot of power. We’re particularly fond of the dV-DOSCs for their compact size and lighter weight, and currently have them out on productions of Miss Saigon, The Lion King and 42nd Street in addition to Mamma Mia! and We Will Rock You.”
The producers of the new Las Vegas run of We Will Rock You include Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal of Tribeca Theatrical Productions, original UK producer Phil McIntyre, and Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, both of whom also appropriately serve as the show’s musical directors. Acclaimed UK comedian/writer Ben Elton again provided the script, while Mark Fisher (known for his work with Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, U2, and Janet Jackson) handled the production design and Willie Williams (U2, David Bowie, R.E.M.) created the lighting design.
We Will Rock You tells the tale of a futuristic world where conformity rules and all musical instruments are outlawed. A group of underground radicals ultimately decides to rebel, and set to the sounds and lyrics of Queen’s greatest hits, the story of the battle of the individual against the system is played out in Ben Elton’s unique style of satire.
The Las Vegas production began previews on August 16 at the Paris resort, with a gala opening on September 8. A Moscow production is now also on the verge of its debut, with the German premier topping off the year on December 12 at Cologne’s Musikdome.
L-ACOUSTICS is a leading innovator and manufacturer of high-performance loudspeakers, amplifiers and signal processing devices for touring and installed sound markets. Known around the globe for pioneering and championing the modern line array loudspeaker concept, the company has received numerous accolades for its V-DOSC®, dV-DOSC™, ARCS®, MTD, XT and various subwoofer loudspeaker systems. L-ACOUSTICS products for the North American market are manufactured and distributed by L-ACOUSTICS US of Oxnard, California.
For further information: www.l-acoustics-us.com
Photo captions: Scenes from We Will Rock You, the smash-hit musical from Queen and Ben Elton, currently playing at Paris Las Vegas (photo credit: Joan Marcus)