An official opening by HRH Queen Elizabeth II and performances by José Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa have marked the restoration of Scarborough’s historic open air theatre.
Originally built in Northstead Manor Gardens in the 1930s and officially opened by the Lord Mayor of London, Scarborough’s open air theatre is to this day the largest in Europe.
At its creation, audiences flocked to see Edward German’s popular English comic opera ‘Merrie England’, the first production ever to be staged at the magnificent outdoor venue.
The theatre’s construction took advantage of sloping ground contours, which created a natural amphitheatre and provides ideal acoustic conditions for all kinds of musical entertainment.
The stage was (and still is) set on an island in the middle of a lake with fixed seating for the audience opposite, originally set out in five blocks with more than 6,000 seats.
At the height of its popularity the seaside holiday venue drew thousands each night, offering theatrical productions and lavish musicals.
Fast forward to 2010, and a grand redevelopment project costing £3.5m was initiated, mostly privately funded with assistance from Scarborough Borough Council.
The newly restored theatre was officially opened by the Queen in May 2010, marked by a special event which featured a semi-permanent Turbosound audio system installation, designed and supplied by Subfrantic Production Services.
London-based Subfrantic, headed up by Stephen Davies and Sean Murphy, specializes in both permanently installed and rental audio projects all over the UK, and their policy of supplying only the most appropriate equipment at highly competitive rates – together with a well established long term relationship with the client’s production manager – secured them the Scarborough contract.
The Turbosound rig will be in place throughout the entire summer season, come rain or shine. “We have been involved with the project from the outset, and with the management company having a long-term lease on the site we also took a long-term view on the PA architecture, right down to the speaker hangs being specifically designed around Aspect,” said Subfrantic’s operations manager Sean Murphy.
“With Turbosound’s help we configured the system to be as versatile as possible, knowing the huge variety of entertainment scheduled in for the 2010 season – from the grand opening by the Queen in May, through to the World Cup events and on to the end of September with a mix of comedy, opera and popular music.”
The Aspect system wraps around the Total Fabrications custom PA towers, and consists of 12 TA-890H mid-highs each side, flown 4-wide and 3-deep. Just inside of the PA hangs, and ground stacked at stage level, six TA-890L double 15” low frequency cabinets sit on top of four TSW-218 double 18” subwoofers ground stacked each side.
The rig is powered by MC2 T-series amplifiers, with system control provided by Turbosound’s LMS-D26 processors. The FOH system is complemented by a lightweight and powerful TFM-450 monitor rig and Floodlight TFL-760H sidefills, again all powered by MC2 T-series amplifiers and LMS-D24 processors.
“The guys from Subfrantic were really helpful, and were there an occasion in the future I would be very happy to work with them again,” said Honywill .
“On stage, the TFM-450s created an environment which the artists were more than happy with, even though we had to keep to relatively low levels,” said Murphy.
“In fact, after the event we had comments from the band about just how good the sound on stage was. In my opinion the 450s are still the best wedges on the market!”