Page 18 - Entertainmnet Technology 246 - August 2013

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August 2013
18
features
Van Krugten and Hentschel
mastermind audio upgrade at
Starlight Express Theatre
When the updated production of
Starlight Express opened at Bochum’s
Stadionring – celebrating 25 years since
its first performance at the specially
constructed ‘Starlight Express Theatre’
in June 1988 – it featured for the first
time Martin Audio’s new award-winning
Multi-cellular Loudspeaker Array (MLA)
platform.
Advertising itself as “the fastest musical
in the universe” it fell to sound supervisor
Riccardo van Krugten and system
engineer/installation manager, Georg
Hentschel to supercharge the next
generation production while remaining
faithful to Martin Levan’s original sound
design.
Hentschel was already familiar with
Martin Audio’s pioneering system, since
his company (LiveAudio) has owned
an MLA rig since May 2011. He later
attended the world launch of the second-
generation MLA Compact in London, and
it is the smaller system that his company
has now installed for this production.
Overseeing the sound in Bochum since
Starlight Express Celebrates 25th Anniversary
in Bochum with New MLA Compact
early 2010, Riccardo van Krugten was
eager that the production remained
faithful to a single system to cope with
the fast roller skating action. “We wanted
a stereo set-up for the orchestra, and a
separate system for vocals, positioned
above the main performance area,” he
said. “This required a PA solution that
would reproduce music and vocals
equally well.” Another issue was the
need to reduce spill and crosstalk from
the PA speakers into the fast moving 25
Microport headsets.
Since the new production promised
“to take audio engineering to the
highest level”, van Krugten knew that
the audience expectation today is far
greater than it was two decades ago.
He was also mindful of past complaints
concerning vocal intelligibility and clarity
in parts of the auditorium. “And so we
searched for a system that would provide
even coverage for all seats in the house,
maintaining frequency response and
sound levels.”
That search began after Andreas
Karsten had produced a 3D EASE model
of the Starlight Express Theatre. Said
Riccardo: “We ran various simulations
with the existing speakers and looked
at the problems. Then we ran the same
simulations with two conventional line
array rigs at different positions to identify
whether a line source solution could be
used in this situation, before inviting
nine manufacturers for two shoot-out
sessions.”
Atlantic Audio, Martin Audio’s German
distributor, organised the hardware
and crew for this shoot-out, which took
place in front of the full production team,
including Phil Edwards, the musical
supervisor from England.
To thoroughly evaluate the competing
systems, Riccardo prepared a file in
ProLogic containing samples from the
show (and other vocal recordings of
different tonalities), as well as music
that everyone would recognise. “For the
second half of the session we had the
Starlight rhythm section and three cast
members perform live from different
positions on stage,” he said. “In two
shoot-out sessions, we heard nine
different (mono) arrays rigged side by
side. The MLA Compact never left any
doubt it would handle reliably whatever
kind of audio we threw at it.”
As a result, 27 MLA Compacts have
been divided into three flown L/C/R