d&b gets into the Christmas spirit with The Grinch.
Dr Seuss’s heart-warming and hilarious Christmas tale, ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas,’ has been immortalized in many forms since the book was first published in 1957. It was adapted into a musical, making its stage debut in Minneapolis in 1994. Since then, it has enjoyed a Broadway run and extensive annual tours throughout North America. Finally, in 2019, ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas! The Musical,’ crossed the Atlantic to premier on British soil at the New Wimbledon Theatre before heading off on a UK-wide tour. Well known theatre sound designer, Richard Brooker, chose this occasion to specify d&b on a major production for the first time in his career.
“It was a bit of a leap of faith for me, but I had a really good time with it,” admits Brooker. “I’d not used d&b for many years, being perfectly happy with other solutions available to me, but following a recent, positive d&b experience on a much smaller show I decided that it was about time I tried something new on a big production – and so I took a deep breath and took the plunge.”
Brooker notes that the major challenge with this tour was the variety of venues which changed from traditional theatre environments to large arenas, so it was crucial to have a system that was able to bridge these demanding acoustic environments.
“We opened in the New Wimbledon Theatre, which is a beautiful, Grade II listed Edwardian theatre with a traditional proscenium arch. We then moved into the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena which is completely the opposite end of the spectrum as far as venues are concerned, and what the sound system needs to deliver“ explains Brooker.
After consulting with d&b, Brooker put together a system for Wimbledon based on a combination of V-Series and Y-Series loudspeakers in both line array and point source formats. “I was really pleased with how the system sounded at Wimbledon, but the arena system was quite a step up - we went from a 1500-capacity theatre, which isn’t small, but it’s a far cry from a 5000-seat arena.“
Brooker describes his experience using the d&b Y and V-Series: “It’s been an interesting journey of discovery with excellent results. The software (ArrayCalc and R1) allowed me to play with the system which I really enjoyed. For example, ArrayCalc proved very accurate for working out delay times, dispersion and coverage, so I can imagine that for architecturally awkward or challenging spaces it would be really useful.”
Something else he appreciated was the opportunity to discover Array Processing: “In addition to the extra kit for the arena system, Stage Sound Services also provided a lot of extra amplifiers – enough that I could have each of the V8s on a separate amp - which meant that I got to use ArrayProcessing for the first time. That was a fascinating experience. I was really happy with the sound we achieved, and so were the producers. Arenas are pretty unfriendly spaces to do a show, but we achieved good things. It was all quite exciting really.”
Ultimately, Brooker was thrilled with his first experience with d&b. “I really appreciated all the help and support, both from d&b themselves and from Stage Sound Services who supplied the kit. It’s a huge risk for any designer to take the plunge with a brand new system on a high profile show, but everyone went out of their way to ensure that I was happy and comfortable. You’ll definitely be seeing d&b on more of my shows in the future.“