Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a production based on the 1964 book by Roald Dahl, has been delighting audiences of all ages at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London following its premiere in May 2013. 70,000 people saw the musical in its first month with its premier attended by top celebrities from the acting world. Its run has now been extended until May 2014. The musical is directed by Sam Mendes and Willy Wonka is played by Douglas Hodge.
L-ACOUSTICS equipment was specified by award-winning sound designer Paul Arditti, following his successful shows (including London Road and The Magistrate) using L-ACOUSTICS equipment in the Olivier Theatre, since its installation in July 2012.
“Having heard L-ACOUSTICS KARA in the challenging environment of the Olivier Theatre in London, I knew that this was the loudspeaker system I wanted to specify for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
As a physical space, the Theatre Royal - a four-level Victorian auditorium that is wide, deep and high - offers particular acoustic challenges. Paul Arditti felt at first that “the odds were rather stacked against me at Drury Lane!”. Other challenges to the audio included a huge false proscenium in Mark Thompson’s amazing set design where the loudspeaker rigging would usually be placed, a cast containing many children (who would need significant levels of amplification to be comprehensible against the orchestra), and unusually dense and fast lyrics. L-ACOUSTICS equipment was specifically selected for its ability to overcome these multiple challenges while delivering the best possible sound for the production.
Paul Arditti explains, “After much negotiation with designer Mark Thompson, English Heritage (who control the fabric of the building), the lighting department, the video department, and the rigging department, I was able to find rigging positions at the sides and in the header of the proscenium to place KARA and KIVA units, in various arrays ranging from two to twelve elements.”
KARA was specifically chosen because of its size, horizontal dispersion and headroom. “Firstly, KARA is compact and very usable for medium to large theatres where sightlines are an issue. Secondly, KARA has a horizontal dispersion of 110º, which is more than most comparable line arrays. I needed this horizontal dispersion to distribute the vocals evenly across the wide auditorium. Thirdly, as I was intending to use the KARA system for vocals, orchestra and some very loud sound effects (sometimes we use entirely separate systems for all of these, but I did not have the space), I needed to make sure that there was plenty of available headroom. I also added ten SB18 sub bass units, which performed magnificently around the whole auditorium. These subs really pack a punch!”
The vertical dispersion of the KARA was also critical: “Like all line array loudspeakers, a larger array of KARA improves vertical controllability, particularly in the MF and LF. In this respect I was also grateful for L-ACOUSTICS help and advice with LA NETWORK MANAGER. The filters on the LA8s are very powerful, and it's obviously necessary to know exactly what they do.
“Unusually for me, I attended every one of the 33 previews in order to tweak settings on EQ delay and level for all the arrays from every listening position.
“The KARA performed magnificently on all kinds of audio material, making the orchestra in the pit sound natural and full of transients, with the vocals crisp and clean in the mix above the music.”
Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Olivier and Tony Award®-winning actor Douglas Hodge plays Willy Wonka in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 25th June 2013 and is currently booking until 1st November 2014. Alongside Douglas Hodge, the cast includes Nigel Planer as Grandpa Joe, Clive Carter as Mr Salt, Jasna Ivir as Mrs Gloop, Paul J Medford as Mr Beauregarde, Iris Roberts as Mrs Teavee, Billy Boyle as Grandpa George, Roni Page as Grandma Josephine and Myra Sands as Grandma Georgina. Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash), a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig (The Events; The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart; Midsummer; Tintin In Tibet), set and costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!; One Man, Two Guvnors) and choreography by Peter Darling (Billy Elliot; Matilda). The Official Cast Recording album is available now on Sony Records, on CD and download. This world premiere musical is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Langley Park Productions. www.CharlieandtheChocolateFactory.com
Autograph Sound Based in North London, Autograph Sound have a blend of innovators, designers, creators, engineers, developers, philosophers and award-winners who are dedicated to developing and supplying very high-spec audio equipment to every branch of the entertainment and events industry since 1972. www.autograph.co.uk