The Lion King

Disney Theatrical Productions’ The Lion King has now been seen by more than 54m people across 13 countries, and grossed more than US$4.2bn. The latest production in its 16-year run is at Madrid’s Lope de Vega Theatre, where a DiGiCo SD7T mixing console is hard at work…

Supplied by Autograph Sound Recording, the SD7T is handling FOH and monitor mixes. Together, the 50-strong cast and 11-piece band require 46 stereo and 87 mono input channels, plus 19 stereo and 44 mono output channels – a channel count that keeps engineer Germán Schlatter Cortijo pretty busy...

As well as serving as the production’s mix engineer, Cortijo is head of sound at Stage Entertainment España: ‘I first worked with a D5T on The Producers at the Coliseum Theatre in Madrid. After that was Disney´s Beauty and the Beast at the same theatre, followed by further Beauty and the Beast productions in Moscow, Milan and Rome,’ he says. ‘This production was the first time that I have used an SD7T, and the experience has been very positive.’

Germán Schlatter Cortijo and DiGiCo SD7TWhile the pre-programming had already been done by (Broadway sound designer) David Patridge, adjustments still had to be made once the desk was installed. Working alongside Cortijo were local engineers Adrián Galones and Rubén Bustamante y Efrén Sánchez, plus Dickie Bower and Ben Lloyd from Autograph. For the rehearsal period an EX007 extender wing was added, making it easier for programming to continue while Cortijo was mixing.

The Lion King is a difficult production to mix, needing full concentration throughout every performance,’ Cortijo says. ‘Although it’s performed eight or nine times a week, no two shows are exactly the same – the magic lies in the unpredictability of the human element. Because of this, although there are some programmed scenes, the main mix is done completely on the fly.

‘The way the console is laid out is very good for both rehearsals and performances,’ he continues. ‘You can see the stage, the script [in rehearsals], the musical director in the video monitor and the cue list, without having to keep moving your eyes. Its compact size makes it easy to reach any control and it reduces the size needed for the FOH position. This, of course, makes the producers happy. The distance between the faders is also perfect for musicals, where you spend most of the time with many fingers constantly moving the control groups.’

Cortijo has found programming the SD7T intuitive: ‘It is very easy to assign a group of channels to control groups, as well as layering them and the channel banks,’ he reports. ‘Importantly, the EQs do exactly what they show they are doing on the console’s screens, and they sound great.’

He is also impressed with the way that DiGiCo listens to users, including the facilities that they most want: ‘DiGiCo’s James Gordon visited Madrid in 2006 and asked my opinion about using the D5T on musicals,’ he says. I said it would be very handy to have a soft and a hard mute, being able to access them with just one hit. It would allow us to instantly mute any unexpectedly noisy RF, but continue passing cues with the channel muted until the guys on stage could fix it.

‘When The Lion King arrived in Madrid, I was really impressed to see that this had been included on the SD7T.’

More: www.digico.org

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