Dutch production company Joop van den Ende recently kicked off a massive new touring production of Saturday Night Fever, which opened in February at the Carré Theatre in Amsterdam. Sound design is by acclaimed Dutch designer Jeroen ten Brinke, who selected a sizeable L-Acoustics loudspeaker system for the tour, which also features a number of backstage innovations from the technical perspective. Sound equipment and support is courtesy of London-based live entertainment sound and communications system specialist, Orbital Sound.
Ten Brinke specified a combination of 18 L-Acoustics KARA loudspeakers for the main left and right arrays, supported by two SB28 subs, with six L-Acoustics KIVA cabinets forming the centre cluster. These are powered by five LA8 amplifiers, which incorporate the LA network control for remote control access and processing via the Meyer Sound Galileo system.
The Dutchman explained his approach: “SNF is playing 13 of the Netherlands’ largest theatres, with minimal load in time at each venue. We have designed the whole system to fit into two trucks, keeping everything in the digital domain from start to finish – we can simply roll out all the kit and plug it up really fast. I needed lots of gain, with the show transitioning from being very quiet and soft to very loud, and the L-Acoustics system was an obvious choice.
The speakers are quite linear, maintaining a very consistent frequency response – and the system is quite simply the best I have ever heard. It is the first time that I have used the KARA and KIVA cabinets, and we are getting a great result – they really are very ‘grateful’ speakers! It’s a simple configuration but also a very efficient one, with two conventional Meyer Sound UPAs bottom left and right giving us a bit of extra coverage up to row 10. At FOH, we have a relatively small Digidesign VENUE console, which is just right for the job. The Orbital crew has been very co-operative and given us excellent support, as well as coming up with a lot of great theatre solutions.”
Behind the scenes, the sound team identified a number of innovative ways to streamline the tour logistics from the technical perspective, including commissioning a specially designed set of flight cases that enable the KARA speakers to be securely stacked three-high for transportation. In addition, the KIVA speakers and main hanging brackets remain pinned together for shipping - all contributing to saving time on arrival at a new venue, and on breakdown. Orbital’s task from the outset was to focus on how to streamline each and every part of the technical process, requiring some major ingenuity.
David, Orbital’s project manager/production engineer for Saturday Night Fever, explains what was involved: “Given the scale of the show, we knew that we faced a mammoth task to get the show designed, built and all the equipment tested – not helped by Christmas and the New Year holidays falling right in the middle of the build period. Everyone stepped up to the mark, and it shipped to Holland on time, ready for the first day of load-in at the Theater Aan De Schie in Schiedam. We were very fortunate to have Stage Entertainments’ Bas Arets, the sound No 1 for the show, come over from Holland for four days during the build. His knowledge and assistance certainly helped us to ship the show on time.
“We were very keen to try and streamline as much as possible of the technical process, and introduced a number of measures to achieve this. The first involved using Orbital’s proprietary Guff cable, which combines six audio lines, four BNC video lines, Cat5 and power into a single cable. This makes a big difference to load-in times, as you only need to run the one cable to accommodate all the production aspects. We are also using our FOH Digimult cable, which consists of four BNC, four audio lines, two Cat5 and Power, to cover all necessary requirements to make the Digidesign system, and other components, go together as quickly and seamlessly as possible. This, coupled with our integrated RacPac racking system that incorporates in-built lighting, power and easy stackability, makes it possible to wheel the large amp racks and radio racks into place, ready to plug and play."
In addition to Bartholomeusz, Orbital’s build and ongoing technical support team for the show comprises production engineer – Dan Bailey; engineers – Simon Shepherd and Simon Dawson; comms engineer - Alex Waddle; and radio mic engineer - Jason Fernandes. All computers were built and programmed by Richard Carter and Bill Addison, with Nihal Badik responsible for transport and logistics. Orbital’s remit includes providing ongoing technical support throughout the tour’s progress around Holland, which currently includes all 13 venues over the next six months.