NEW YORK, DECEMBER 1, 2015 — When the highly anticipated American musical Allegiance made its Broadway debut at the Longacre Theatre, Masque Sound, a leading theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design company, pledged its support to Sound Designer Kai Harada with a custom audio equipment package.
Inspired by the true-life experience of its star George Takei, Allegiance follows one family’s extraordinary journey in this untold American story. A mysterious envelope leads Sam Kimura back 60 years to a time when he and his sister Kei (Tony® Award-winner Lea Salonga) strived to save their family from the wrongful imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Sam enlists in the army to prove the Kimuras’ loyalty, but Kei joins draft resisters fighting for the rights of their people. Their paths take them from the lush farmlands of California to the wastelands of Wyoming to the battlefields of Europe, and their divided loyalties threaten to tear them apart forever. But as long-lost memories are unlocked, Sam finds that it is never too late to forgive and to recognize the redemptive power of love.
In designing the sound for Allegiance, Harada wanted to ensure that it would not get in the way of the significant storyline. “Allegiance is such a powerful musical that it was important for me to keep the sound clear and natural — to make sure every word of the story is told, but to also present it in such a way that the audience has to participate in the listening,” says Harada. “Additionally, we needed a system that would not only allow for lyrical transparency but also for power. The songs in Allegiance range in volume from quiet to loud, with some very strong sound effects as well.”
One of Harada’s biggest challenges in designing the sound was the layout of the theatre itself. “The Longacre Theatre is the perfect size for a musical like Allegiance from an audience’s standpoint; however, there is very little room offstage, in the trap room or in the orchestra pit,” adds Harada. “The orchestra is split over four different locations. The mix position is also in a not-so-ideal location at the back of the mezzanine — essentially in another acoustic space. Speaker positions were also a challenge as the theatre was designed well before sound reinforcement was a prominent fixture, but we’ve come up with a good selection of equipment to give the show the system it needs. Fortunately, Masque Sound had most of the equipment that I wanted for the show and purchased some other items that I couldn’t do without.”
For Allegiance, Masque Sound supplied a custom audio equipment package that included a Studer Vista 5 SR digital console as well as a large assortment of Meyer Sound and d&b loudspeakers, which Harada chose for their sound quality and comfort level. The package features a full surround system and several subwoofers located in as many places as possible, as it was important to have the ability to reproduce some very low-end sound effects. Masque Sound also supplied 30 Sennheiser SK 5212 transmitters and EM 1046 receivers. Sound effects are run via QLab 3.
“As usual, Masque Sound was very supportive and great to work with,” adds Harada. “As with other shows, Masque Sound sent Gary Stocker to consult with us at the theatre for our Studer Vista 5 SR console system, and to make sure that everything provided was working as smoothly as possible. In addition, my team, including FOH Mixer Liz Coleman, A2 Jana Hoglund, Production Sound Phil Lojo [responsible for installing the system according to Harada’s specs] and Assistant Sound Designer Stephanie Celustka, all worked very hard and did a wonderful job. The show sounds great and I am very proud of it.”
About Masque Sound
Founded in 1936 by a trio of Broadway stagehands, Masque Sound evolved into one of NYC’s most successful theatrical sound reinforcement, installation and design companies specializing in theatrical, house of worship, sporting, corporate, TV broadcast and live concert events. Celebrating more than 75 years in the industry, the company is led by the firm’s third generation owner, Geoff Shearing. The company also operates Florida-based Professional Wireless Systems, a leader in the development and implementation of wireless technology. Credits range from major Broadway shows and tours including Phantom of the Opera, MAMMA MIA!, Lion King, Jersey Boys, The Book of Mormon, Once, Kinky Boots, Aladdin and Fun Home to yearly Super Bowl broadcasts and installations of varying sizes, including Western Connecticut State University, the Jim Wise Theatre at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Masque Sound’s 70,000 sq. ft. corporate headquarters and main assembly facility is located at 21 East Union Ave., East Rutherford, NJ, 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan. For more information, call (201) 939-8666 or visit www.MasqueSound.com.