Hamburg Production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”
Hamburg Production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Enhances Their Sound
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, proceeding after the final book. The original story, written by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, is a spellbinding continuation of Rowling’s wizarding world and starts 19 years after Harry’s time at Hogwarts. The multi Olivier and Tony® award-winning play immerses the audience in epic duels, extraordinary spells and gives attendees the ability to see their beloved characters on stage. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is rich with a compelling storyline, filled with distinctive stagecraft, and the Mehr! Theater am Großmarkt, in Hamburg, Germany, needed support from an intuitive sound system that would reinforce all the highs of a major scene and provide clarity during the softer, more intimate moments.
The biggest challenges for this German-language production of the famous fictitious wizard were the theater’s acoustics. The venue was formerly a produce market that had been converted into a multi-purpose event venue. Built into the Großmarkthalle, a protected historic building, the theater shell is mostly an exposed concrete building. Fry noted the nature of the production involves large, epic scenes and quieter, more intimate moments. The production scenes’ duality would need a system that made the big venue feel more intimate and draw the audience into each scene and each moment.
As a part of the venue’s extensive conversion to make it more intimate for the show, Fry worked closely with architect Frans Dikmans and acoustician Karlheinz Stegmaier to enhance the space’s sound. The rental company, FeedBack Show systems, with their established expertise in L-Acoustics systems, provided expert support to build a system with the needed flexibility and definition for the production. A vital component of this strategy was the use of predictive modeling software, including Soundvision. By importing and exporting files, the team could collaborate with other departments to detect potential sightline or obstruction issues in advance, communicating the consequences of shifting speaker positions, since it was easy to display the impact that would have on coverage.
For the system, the team decided on a frontal system, primarily utilizing KARA. KIVA II is also used for rear surrounds on the upper circle due to the space’s challenging nature for rigging, and the 45-degree rake of the seating section. Each surround level also includes a pair of KS28 subwoofers to ensure the impact of the show’s more significant moments across the theater.
During the preview performances, Fry felt the system was performing well above expectations, thanks to the team’s hard work on the system design. “It’s always important for the audience to connect with the performers, which gets trickier the larger the venue gets. The vocal reinforcement system needs to be as transparent as possible, and vocals need to come from the performers onstage clearly.” The L-Acoustics system did just that.
I found acoustic modeling software incredibly useful for working out how the system would function, which is particularly important when modeling a space that doesn’t exist yet. The software is incredibly useful for visualizing how the system will work and sharing information with other departments.
- Vocal LCR main: 3x 8 box KARA arrays
- Music main: Two arrays with 5 KARA
- Frontfills: 16 5XT
- Sidefills: 2x SYVA, 2x X8
- Mid stalls sidefills: 2x X8
- Circle stalls Main: Two dual A15 FOCUS
- Circle stalls delays: 24x 5XT
- Stalls delays: 2x 4 box A15 arrays
- Stalls surrounds: 18x X8 (9L, 9R)
- Stalls rears: dual 2x KIVA II arrays, 14x X8
- Upper circle vocal: 4x 4 KARA arrays
- Upper circle main: 2x 4 KARA arrays
- Upper circle sidefills: Two A15
- Upper circle surrounds: Eight X8
- Upper circle rears: 3x 4 KIVA II arrays
- Dome surrounds: Four ARCS Focus
- Subwoofers: Eight KS28, 4x SB18