Abe Jacob’s Broadway career started with the designing sound for the original productions of Hair in 1968 and Jesus Christ Superstar in 1971, and progressed through the decades with a long list of shows such as Pippin, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Evita, Chicago, A Chorus Line, Beatlemania, Dancin’, Follies, and The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm, to name just a few. While he has continued as the in-house sound guru at the David H. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center for New York City Opera and New York City Ballet, Jacob hadn’t been on Broadway in 11 years when Rain opened at the Neil Simon Theatre in October 2010 (it moved to the Brooks Atkinson in February).
Once he was back on Broadway, Jacob got to design the sound for Rain in two different venues, making some changes along the way. Speaker placement is one of the variations, moving some further offstage at the Brooks Atkinson. “We had to make sure not to block seats or sightlines,” he says.
Mark Menard and Nevin Steinberg of Acme Sound Partners joined Jacob for a little creative hand-holding, as he says, “so I could get back on Broadway. They tuned the room using Meyer’s SIM system, and I used their ears to listen to various parts of the room for me.” Menard returned to SIM the Brooks Atkinson before Rain made its move, and Steinberg once again assisted in the overall system balancing.
“The major change in EQ was to smooth out the low-end response of the Meyer JM-1Ps and to tighten the sound of the 700HP subwoofers,” says Jacob. “Also, because of the smaller balcony, we replaced the CQ-1s and CQ-2s with two UPA-1Ps and two USW subwoofers. These systems had to be EQ’d from scratch. We also replaced the multiple surround speakers with six Meyer UPJs, placed in the four quadrants of the theatre. So the surround effects are pretty much the same, only originating in discrete quad sources. I believe it works just as well. All other equipment stayed the same.”
When Rain reopened on February 8, Jacob found that the show sounded as good, and the crowd reaction was much the same as always: dancing in the aisles and singing along to all The Beatles’ hits. “Again, it’s the power of that music,” he says. “I believe we made the transition quite well, and because we are in a smaller theatre, the production has more of an impact on the audience.”
Stay tuned for continuing coverage of the lighting, set, and projection design. Rain will be seen by attendees of the Broadway Sound Master Classes in May.