The historic Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York, is one of the country’s pre-eminent regional theatres, offering year-round entertainment and events.
In anticipation of the theatre’s final production of the 2013 Mainstage Season, Sound Designer Tony Melfa turned to Masque Sound to provide a custom sound equipment package for the musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a musical that tells the bawdy story of a slave named Pseudolus and his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door. The musical’s original 1963 Broadway run won several Tony Awards, including those for Best Musical and Best Book.
In designing the sound for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Melfa’s goal was to keep acoustically true to the original production when it was written in the 1960s.
“I wanted to provide the audience as authentic a feel as possible and not over-mic the stage,” he says. “In order to make that happen, equipment selection was key and Masque Sound did an amazing job of providing me everything I needed to bring my vision to the stage.”
For A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Masque Sound’s custom equipment package included a Yamaha M7CL 32 channel digital mixing console along with a selection of Meyer speakers, including UPA-1Ps, UPM-1Ps and a USW subwoofer.
Melfa utilized a selection of microphones including AKG 414s, Shure SM57s, as well as a Shure Beta 52, Neumann U 89 and AKG D112.
Masque Sound also provided Melfa five Aviom personal monitor systems, in addition to an HME wireless intercom system.
Since the Bay Street Theatre is a three-quarter round stage, Melfa’s biggest in challenge in designing the sound was to make sure the entire theatre was covered acoustically.
“The Bay Street Theatre has a unique layout and I wanted to make sure that all 299 seats in the house were capable of having a memorable experience sonically,” Melfa explains. “It was important that the rental house I worked with was attentive to my needs, and that’s exactly what Masque Sound was for me.
“They are extremely easy to work with and my shop order is always right. It is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders knowing I can expect all the equipment I ordered to be delivered in full and in perfect working condition.”
In addition, Masque Sound worked with Melfa to provide frequency coordination to prevent signal interference from the crowded boating community.
“With all of the boats in Sag Harbor there is a surprisingly large amount of frequencies in use, and Masque Sound is incredible in taking care of all the frequency coordination for me,” adds Melfa. “All I have to do is plug the equipment in and we are ready to go.”
Founded in 1991, Bay Street Theatre is a not-for-profit 299-seat professional regional theatre situated on Long Wharf, in Sag Harbor, NY. Many of the productions that premiered or were developed at Bay Street have moved to Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally and abroad, including Nobody Don’t Like Yogi, Hedda Gabler, Love Janis, If Love Were All, Full Gallop, Swingtime Canteen and Three Hotels.
“We are a small theatre and Masque Sound provides us with as much support as they would give to a big budget Broadway production,” says Melfa. “It is great to know that I can pick up the phone and get an immediate response. They always keep it on a personal level and go the extra mile.”