Broadway, the global theatrical hub, will celebrate its reopening in September with the 74th Tony Awards in New York. Two nominees for Best Musical, Jagged Little Pill and Moulin Rouge! The Musical, are powered by Meyer Sound systems, with the veteran sound designers for the two productions, Jonathan Deans and Peter Hylenski respectively, each nominated for Best Sound Design for a Musical. The two shows also received the highest total of Tony nominations, with 15 for Jagged Little Pill and 14 for Moulin Rouge! The Musical.
Productions scheduled to return that principally rely on Meyer Sound, with respective sound designers, are David Byrne’s refreshed and relocated American Utopia (Pete Keppler), Dear Evan Hansen (Nevin Steinberg), Hadestown (Jessica Paz and Nevin Steinberg), Ain’t Too Proud (Steve Canyon Kennedy and Walter Trarbach), and West Side Story (Tom Gibbons). Finally, the mega-hit Wicked is back for its 18th year, with the original sound design by Tony Meola updated for the new season by his associate, Zach Williamson, in consultation with Meyer Sound Director of System Optimization Bob McCarthy.
Sound designers Jonathan Deans and Peter Hylenski are eagerly awaiting audience and peer reactions to their work. “The approach to Pill in New York is quite different from a standard production,” says Deans. “I will be interested to hear from those who — I would hope — will enjoy this unique sonic experience.”
“Sound design for Moulin Rouge blends concert musicality with Broadway storytelling, and relies on complex audio systems working in the background to make the show sound effortless,” says Hylenski. “The audience is experiencing technology unknowingly, but that makes the sonic storytelling more effective.”
“The tools that Meyer Sound developed helped me overcome the challenges of an unconventional show,” continues Hylenski. “The set design required a re-think of how a loudspeaker system would work to support the performance. Newer products like the ULTRA-X40, UPQ-D3 and the delay matrix in the GALAXY Network Platform were integral to realizing the sound design.”
As with all who rely on the performing arts for their livelihood, both Jonathan Deans and Peter Hylenski are excited and relieved by the reopening of Broadway. “I feel like anybody who has lost their line of work for 18 months and can now return,” says Deans. “It has been a sorrowful time for many but I’m thankful my family has been safe.”
“I started working in theater at age 13 and haven’t been away from it for more than a few weeks until Covid,” reflects Hylenski. “It was odd for something that’s such a part of me to suddenly stop. Bringing back live productions will be challenging and needs to be done safely, but I’m ready and excited.”
Rental companies supplying the Meyer Sound systems for the productions are Sound Associates, PRG and Masque Sound. Broadway productions are set to reopen September 14, followed by the 74th Tony Awards on September 26.