The Book of Mormon, the recent Broadway smash that won nine 2011 Tony Awards, five 2011 Drama Desk Awards and a 2012 Grammy Award, is now taking the show on the road with two North American touring productions. Both are traveling with complete KARA loudspeaker systems supplied by East Rutherford, NJ-based L-Acoustics Certified Provider Masque Sound.
Sound design for the new productions was provided by Brian Ronan, the award-winning sound designer responsible for the show’s original run at the Eugene O’Neil Theatre in Manhattan.
Cody Spencer assisted Ronan as the associate sound designer on the off-Broadway projects, with Christopher Sloan again serving as production engineer.
The first production, which officially premiered at Los Angeles’ Pantages Theatre in mid-September following a two-week preview in Denver, features a center array of 14 KARA enclosures flown just above the center of the proscenium.
Speaker towers on the left and right sides of the stage each contain three small KARA arrays – five enclosures for orchestra seating, four for mezzanine, and five for balcony – built into focusable gimbals to uniformly address the three primary audience areas.
A single SB18 sub is also fit into the base of each tower, with two more positioned up in the mezzanine for additional LF fill. All loudspeaker systems are monitored and driven by a combined total of nine LA8 amplified controllers running L-Acoustics’ LA Network Manager software.
“The Pantages is quite a wide theatre, so KARA’s nice wide, consistent dispersion pattern made it a particularly ideal solution for the room,” says Ronan. “With our mini-arrays housed in the speaker tower gimbals, we’re able to very effectively spread the audio throughout each of the seating areas.
“Even up in the balcony, it’s remarkable how well we can reach the back row of seats all the way from the proscenium.”
“KARA’s midrange seems slightly more pronounced than dV-DOSC, which is a pleasant thing, especially in theatre as it naturally allows the vocal to pop out in a way that I find quite desirable,” he observes. “The speaker is now a part of my standard touring package.
“With its compact size and rigging improvements, the system can pack into three-quarters of a truck, be driven to the next venue, and be ready for a show within 16 hours.”
The second production – a replica sit-down company starting out at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre in mid-December and remaining there for at least half a year before heading off to other North American cities as a conventional tour – features a different loudspeaker setup.
In particular, the center downfill array of KARA is comprised of only nine enclosures flown nearly parallel to the floor to avoid occluding a brief but important gag during the show – a spinning statue of the angel Moroni on the pinnacle of the set.
“We had a very similar scenic issue with the original Broadway production and ultimately ended up using a horizontal array of dV-DOSC, which worked great as a spot fill,” he says. “So when we ran into the same architectural challenge with the theatre in Chicago, we knew that KARA would also be ideal.”
Ronan adds that response to the use of KARA on the road so far has been very positive.
“Generally every night, when people are walking by, we get compliments. I’ve had audience members come up to me after the show and say ‘I always have trouble hearing at the Pantages and this was the first time I didn’t.’
“That’s the best possible confirmation that we’re doing something right, especially with a show like this that is so packed full of quick dialog and laugh lines.”
A third production of The Book of Mormon is also currently being prepped for its international premier at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End in March.