Continuing a working relationship that spans nearly 20 years, Adlib is supplying sound, lighting, video and rigging to the ongoing 2019 arena tour by Brendan O’Carroll and his Mrs Brown’s Boys phenomenon with Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Musicai!. With up to 18 people onstage at any one time as the cast and creative elements pushing the envelope, technical solutions provider Adlib met its most technically complex Mrs Brown touring show to date.

Mrs BrownWith Hassane es Siahi as FOH engineer, Steph Fleming as monitor engineer and Shona Steadman is looking after mics and RF, Alan Harrison is the Adlib systems engineer.

A comprehensive Coda system was chosen to deliver sound for the tour as Harrison is a big advocate of the brand, especially for theatrical style shows. He’s worked on the past four tours dating back to 2012, and it’s consistently been Coda providing a formula of power, clarity and handling.

As with any comedy show, precision is the mission, and the challenge is delivering these levels of intelligibility throughout large cavernous arena spaces. The cast members use a variety of DPA headset mics, which are sensitive and transparent. The stage design includes a thrust, needing careful audio consideration and positioning, so a key for this system design was to have multiple smaller speaker arrays around the rooms, including LCR delays halfway down. This ensured that enough energy reached all the right places without getting bounced back and reflecting around the space.

The two main PA hangs comprised a maximum of 12 Coda AiRay boxes each side, flown slightly further downstage than the standard positioning. Accompanying subs were 12 Coda SCPs, positioned six-a-side on the floor. The side hangs were kept as discreet as possible – both for acoustics and sightlines – these comprised of up to eight AiRays, with four ViRay downs depending on the venue. A flown centre cluster of six ViRay covered the first rows of audience.

Coda APS (array point source) speakers were attached via special brackets to the lighting trusses just above the corners of the thrust. These, coupled with more HOPS on brackets on the stage, allowed the focus of the audience in the first rows to be drawn directly towards the actors, keeping the immediacy of the comedy. The delays comprised eight ViRays each on the left and right, with eight of the 5-inch TiRays in the centre which, according to Harrison, ‘pack a real punch’ for their size.

All of the flown speakers and those attached to the trusses were powered by 18 amplifiers – nine a side – and with TiRays, APS’ and HOPS’ being run passive/1A channel each and the AiRay and ViRay bi-amped, so two channels, making an extremely efficient footprint for an arena show, but with no compromise on SPL.

The cable infrastructure was also very expedient with one Socapex to each hang, reducing load-in time. With the amount of scenery, props and stage set, the PA crew were under pressure to get all their flown elements floating super-quickly so all the other departments – apart from rigging – could go in ‘underneath’.

Mrs Brown

Harrison reports proudly that this stage of the audio get-in – also assisted by Coda’s quick-rigging capacity – flew in and up in around 30 minutes from when they were handed the points. Shortly after this, the speaker arrays were at trim, ready for the next stage of positioning the speakers on the lighting trusses. The efficiency and smoothness of this prompted many compliments from local crews.

Onstage, the cast use side fills for monitoring rather than IEMs, proving a better fit for their specific brand of musical comedy. These were an array of three flown HOPS each side working in conjunction with two more HOPS on the upstage rail of the front lighting truss, pointing down. The front monitors were also HOPS attached to the front of the thrust via more custom brackets, and slightly angled up.

Being a musical, the monitoring is loud, especially with multiple cast members onstage. Harrison notes that the gain-before-feedback of the Coda system is ‘astounding… I have never found another product that is this tolerant’, and in a month of daily shows, they had only one feedback tweak.

The consoles were both DiGiCos – an SD10 for es Siahi at FOH, while Fleming used an SD12 for monitors and Steadman a DiGiCo S21 to monitor the RF channels.

The cast sing live to playback with the tracks stored on a fully redundant 16-channel QLab system which is at the heart of the performance. Musical director Andy O’Callaghan and Hass spent considerable time on perfecting the transitions and programming during cast rehearsals at LS Live.

A DiGiCo Optocore network was used to connect and deal with all the track signal routing from the QLab, the FOH and monitor consoles and racks. The QLab rack was built by Adlib and sat at FOH, with lighting for the musical numbers (not the spoken word parts of the set) time-coded, the tracks were triggered by Mike Summerfield at FOH, upon which the QLab sent time code into his consoles.

This production set-up required high levels of interdepartmental co-operation especially between lighting and audio, all aided by the full technical requirements coming from one company – which also offered a cost-efficient option to production. ‘It has been brilliant for me, firstly working on the actual live shows on the road last time to now project managing, which brings a whole new perspective,’ says Adlib Account Manager, Jordan Willis. ‘It’s great to have those relationships and trust in place from everyone in production, as we all have the same goal – to make Brendan’s shows the best they could possibly be.’


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