While other prominent theatrical awards continue to ignore the role that sound plays in theatre, for years the LA Stage Alliance Ovation awards have acknowledged the contribution of the sound designer to the art of theatre craft. This year three of the seven award candidates for "sound design, small theater" perfected their craft at Pasadena's newest intimate theatre–the main stage at Boston Court–which is equipped with LCS Audio’s Matrix3 digital audio mixing system, Wild Tracks for 16-tracks of sound effects playback , and VRAS for variable room acoustics.
The Boston Court performing arts complex includes a 99-seat theatre that features both new plays and new interpretations of classic repertoire. Creative sound design is integral to the productions, but operational simplicity is important, as part-time operators are hired on a per-show basis to run the system. Therefore, the system needs to provide great creative potential and high reliability, along with a simple operator interface.
A Matrix3 modular digital mixer forms the heart of the theatre’s flexible sound system. The system provides dynamic audio control and automation via programmable cues and is used for sound reinforcement, variable room acoustics, sound effects playback and localization. Matrix3 handles all of the parametric EQs, delays, compressor functions, and multi-dimensional panning.
The system includes Wild Tracks, VRAS, and CueMixer. A single frame is equipped with 8 analog inputs, 8 analog outputs, and a CobraNet module that receives 8 inputs from VRAS microphones and sends 16 signals to surround speakers. The CueMixer provides hands on control and a remote "Go" button. Complex cue sequences are programmed and rehearsed and maintain their precise timing for every show.
Sound design for the theatre's inaugural production of Romeo and Juliet: Antebellum New Orleans, 1834 used VRAS and Wild Tracks to journey the audience through a myriad of experiences in 19th century New Orleans, including a buzzing swamp, a bustling open-air market, an elegant ballroom, an eerie crypt, and an echoing cathedral.
When asked about the system’s versatility, Martin Carrillo, nominated along with Julie Ferron for their work on Romeo and Juliet: Antebellum New Orleans, 1834, said, "VRAS allowed me to transform the small room at Boston Court into any number of spaces on a cue by cue basis. Beyond this, LCS was able to process and pan the 19.1 custom system that gave me the increased ability to source sounds to specific locations above and around the audience while enveloping them in the reverberation from VRAS samples from all over the room (including audience reactions and applause). The effect was astonishing and subtle at the same time."