Cadac reports on an interesting audio dynamic on the West End musical Daddy Cool, which has been running at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre as one of this season's only new non-Broadway productions. From an audio perspective, the show stands out from the crowd on a number of counts, with sound designer Richard Brooker establishing several technical firsts.
Brooker's design deploys a combination of Cadac analog and digital mixing equipment with an 82-input J-Type Live Production Console and a Digital Series Stage Rack, comprising D16 Digital Mix Matrices and M16 Remote Controlled Microphone Amplifiers. He is also using a large-scale Opus Audio PA system—the first time the rig has been specified for a major new West End show.
Directed by Andy Goldberg, with music from Boney M and Frank Farian Productions, Daddy Cool has a Romeo and Juliet style plot set against a disco musical background. Brooker explains his approach to the sound design: "After reaching this point in the show's run, it's a good time to reflect on what we have achieved with Daddy Cool. It's a great night out, with something for everyone and extremely good fun. I became involved with the show a little later than usual, and many of the creative decisions had already been taken. This meant that I had to design the sound system around some fixed elements, such as the set design, and with the particular shape of The Shaftesbury—it is very much a Victorian-style musical hall—there isn't a lot of room for big PA systems! While the show needs to have an up-front pop sound, we were very conscious of creating a sense of theatre as well, and wanted to create a seamless move from dialogue to song without any perceptible steps.
Creating the warm, rich 1970s and 1980s sound that is integral to the show involved a careful choice of console, as Brooker continues: "I knew that we had to have an analog console and for me, the Cadac J-Type was the only choice, particularly given the number of inputs we needed. It really is my favorite analog desk. We have put the band mixes onto the desk's moving fader section, with all of the routing, sound effects, and reverbs on the programmable output matrix, routing discretely to the surround system. We also needed a very flexible, high quality monitoring system, as we have a silent pit on the show with the trumpet, sax, and flute behind Perspex, and the guitars and basses DI'd. This required a recallable digital set-up and my focus was to maintain the sound quality and keep everything tidy. Cadac's D16s, racked up as a virtual digital console along with the M16s as pre-amps, gave us a perfect combination, plugging straight into the Avion digital monitoring system. In the event, we ended up with an all-Cadac solution for both FOH and monitoring, giving us Cadac quality all the way through.
"My decision to use the Opus rig was something of a first as well, as it's the first theatre installation with the big cabinets—using a combination of AT1000s, PSD800Ts, SB218s and ISO6s. The Cadac and Opus equipment together delivers unbelievable sound quality and has really raised the bar—so much so that it throws up interesting questions about other elements in the chain, due to the tolerances being so much more critical. You can't get away with anything that is less than perfect as a result. I can honestly say that I am delighted with the sound we have achieved. It has a real edge and lends a personality that is exactly right for the show."
Daddy Cool stars Michelle Collins, Javine, and Harvey from So Solid Crew, and runs until February 17, 2007.