Legally Blonde the Musical

Having purchased Martin Audio XD12 and DD6 speakers for the long-running West End Avenue Q production in 2014, dBS Solutions has subsequently employed the same set-up on a number of theatre projects and end-of-year pantos. ‘We have been getting great results from the Martin Audio system,’ dBS Solutions MD, Chris Bogg, reports. ‘It’s sounding exactly as it should and everyone is delighted with it.’

Presently, the XD/WS218X model has been adopted on two further productions – Spamalot and the newly opened Legally Blonde the Musical, for which dBS has deployed the larger Martin Audio XD15. The low weight of this high-specification unit enables several pairs to be mounted up the vertical proscenium truss, with the rotatable horns offering flexibility.

Legally Blonde the Musical

Based on the box office movie, this has been produced by musical theatre and panto specialist, UK Productions who called in dBS Solutions based on past success with a Christmas pantomime in Sunderland.

‘The show’s American girl-heavy production numbers have a tendency to sound squeaky to me, so the main aim was to make the sound less shrill and much warmer,’ says sound designer Chris Bogg.

Careful choice of microphones and deployment of the XD15 and WS218X subs were key so that the dBS MD is able to declare with confidence: ‘We have achieved exactly what we set out to, and produced a great sound for the show.’

The cast are on 28 radio mics, with seven musicians in the orchestra pit on personal monitors. And with further tracks and sound FX from 30 channels of Qlab there was plenty to occupy the mind when Bogg set out to design the system.

His solution has been to mount eight XD15s in four pairs on the vertical truss, focused into the different balcony tiers, each with independent control. ‘With the XDs we have multiple options thanks to the rotatable horn; in traditional format it is 80° wide but with the horn rotated the width of dispersion is 130° using two boxes – and if we want something in between we can format the horizontal coverage for 100°,’ he says.

Extending the low frequencies are a pair of Martin Audio WS218X subwoofers, one either side of the stage for stalls coverage. ‘But in the upper tiers, the 15’ drivers in the XD15 will go sufficiently low that we find we don’t need further dedicated subs. They will handle all the frequencies we need and consequently this has massive time implications when setting up, allowing us to concentrate on the rest of the system.’

The ‘rest of the system’ comprises central pair of XD12 down fills, clustered above the proscenium, which draw the vocal image down and shift it to the centre. Once again, with the rotatable horns he has been able to set these at 100° horizontal x 80° vertical. Four DD6s mounted on the front of the stage provide front fill, while a further eight speakers are used as delays at balcony level to address the furthest seating.

Helping Bogg ensure a smooth ride for the production are Associate Sound Designer, Matt Chisholm, Production Engineer Richard Pomeroy, and the show’s team of Kieron McGuire and Luke Capay.

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