Following an award-winning run in the UK, Lee Hall and Elton John’s musical Billy Elliot opened to sellout crowds in Sydney, Australia’s Capitol Theatre. The Australian production’s exquisite audio was designed by veteran sound designer Paul Arditti, whose credits include the Olivier Award for the London production of Billy Elliot, as well as Olivier nominations for The Pillowman and Festen. The sound system provided by Melbourne-based System Sound Pty. is comprised of 26 Meyer Sound M’elodieâ„¢ line array loudspeakers along with 41 UPM-1P loudspeakers for rear delays. This marks the first time M’elodie is used in any Billy Elliot production, with impressive results.
“Capitol Theatre has some challenging reflections due to the curved ceiling,”? explains Shelly Lee, Sound Supervisor for the production. “The M’elodies’ tight focus really helps to keep those reflections to a minimum.”?
Arditti notes that using M’elodies has effectively prevented a potential feedback disaster. “When you’re attempting to amplify a thirteen-year-old Billy Elliot with a small voice, from an omnidirectional mic hidden in his hairline, while he dances and sings downstage right below the centre hang of M'elodies, against an orchestra playing their socks off, you might expect to run out of gain before feedback,”? Arditti observes. “With the M'elodies, we never even got near the feedback point.”?
Eighteen additional UPM-1P loudspeakers on stage provide foldback for the performers. They are turned on and off to accommodate the frequently moved set pieces throughout the performance. Another ten UPM-1Ps used as frontfills are delayed individually as the front of the stage is angled.
A selection of UPJ-1P VariOâ„¢ loudspeakers and UPA-1P, MM-4 and CQ-1 loudspeakers provides effects throughout the hall, with eight UMS-1P subwoofers handling low end surround. A Galileoâ„¢ loudspeaker management system with two Galileo 616 units handles drive and processing for the M’elodie system.
“The consistency and accuracy of the M’elodies make them, without question, my favorite speakers for theatre vocals,”? states Arditti. “I’m truly impressed with the sound and the superb ease of use of the Galileo as well.”?
System Sound first used the Meyer Sound M’elodies for Miss Saigon in Australia and Brazil, and was so pleased with the results that it recommended them for the Australian productions of Billy Elliot and Spamalot. System Sound’s director John Scandrett confessed that the company first purchased the M’elodies based on its lengthy relationship with other Meyer Sound products and without even auditioning them. “The M1D has been a valuable part of our inventory for many years, and we have tremendous confidence in Meyer Sound’s products,”? Scandrett explains. After using the M’elodies, Scandrett confirms he has made the right decision. “I believe the M’elodie will represent a new benchmark for the theater industry.”?
“The Meyer gear was an easy choice for us,”? Lee agrees. “The level of consistency between boxes is very important, particularly in line arrays. The reliability factor is also a major consideration in these types of long-running productions. At the end of the day, the dedication and expertise Meyer Sound puts into its loudspeaker design have created an impressive range of products; for sound designers, that means an exceptionally wide creative palette to draw from.”?
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