Orbital Sound reports that it is currently out on the road with the Big League Productions’ US national tour of the hit musical Dreamgirls, with the 21-week show schedule ending up on another continent this August – in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. Sound design on the show is by Matt Geasey and Mike Tracey, with Orbital contracted to supply and support the show’s state of the art sound system.
Dreamgirls‘ big sound is delivered by the d&b audiotechnik V-Series speaker system, chosen for its compact yet extraordinarily powerful design, complemented by a state of the art Yamaha CL5 mixing console. The touring system comprises fourteen V8 cabinets, four V12s, and four V-SUBs, which are designed to be flown or ground stacked, giving the show’s sound crew complete configuration freedom depending on an individual theatre’s requirement – all driven by d&b D12 dual channel amplifiers. The V-Series speakers are complemented by additional d&b E6 fill cabinets.
For Matt Geasey, Dreamgirls combines the sound quality demands of a big Broadway production with the challenges of a national city tour. The high-end choice of equipment is delivering an exceptional sounding result: “This was an exciting show to work on, with the brief from Big League Productions being to create a brand new sound design that would wow the audiences. The sound design is the only completely new element to the show, and we wanted the freedom to specify a high quality system that would do it justice. The d&b V-Series has delivered just that – it’s an amazingly innovative product that is perfect for touring with its compact and flexible configuration options. We’ve had great support from the Orbital team at every stage – from the system build in their shop, through to the ongoing technical support, including seamlessly integrating a complete new frequencies set from their RF guru, Jeff Hahn, for each city, which is enormously helpful. Above all, Tim is doing a fantastic job of mixing the show, keeping it as consistent as possible from venue to venue.”
Dreamgirls’ No 1 operator Tim Riggs spends a lot of time behind the show’s other workhorse – the Yamaha CL5 mixing console. Already very familiar with the Yamaha concept, Tim has been working the board hard, and reports that it is turning in a solid performance. Mixing the show is a challenging task, as he explains: “This show feels like a runaway train sometimes; it just keeps going non-stop all the way through! The challenge is to keep it exciting for the audience without wearing them out. While there are the obvious big production numbers, there are also lots of intimate moments, and we really do use the system’s full dynamic range to ensure that you can hear the dialogue wherever they are on stage. It is a tough job to get it right, particularly with regard to the clarity of the vocals, when we have so little time in the same venue. There is one song called “Family”, which is my benchmark moment – this is when I know if I have got it just right. When the music ends, there are just five members of the cast signing in harmony. If the audience responds with “oohs” and “aahs”, I know we have nailed it!”
The sound design also specified the use of the Shure UHF-R wireless microphone system, principally using the UR1-M micro bodypack transmitters. Other components include MOTO Digital Performer 8, which is used heavily for time code and backing tracks. For the show communications system, the team is using the Clear-Com Tempest. Tim and Chuck typically bring in four local sound technicians to help with each set-up, with one staying on hand during the show. Overall, the show’s logistics are impressive, involving a cast of 25 and four tightly-packed trucks. As an example, one of the leads, Dina, changes costumes and wigs sixteen times within one performance! Simply getting from venue to venue can be a challenge in itself, with the tour even making its way to Anchorage in Alaska – involving a one-week truck drive there and back to the States through Canada.
[Photo credit: Levi Walker]