Another hit by Lincoln Center Theater is The Nance, a play by Douglas Carter Beane set in the burlesque era of the 1930s. Starring Nathan Lane as Chauncey Miles, a “Nance,” or stereotypical homosexual character, the production won Tony Awards for three of its designers: John Lee Beatty for sets; Ann Roth for costumes; and Leon Rothenberg for sound.

Running through August 11 at The Lyceum Theatre, The Nance features a turntable that quickly moves the action from the burlesque theatre to its backstage and a basement apartment. In designing the sound, Rothenberg saw the turntable as “more of an opportunity than a challenge. You get to move the music as the set turns. That was fun to figure out, and the turntable is really well built and very quiet."

In the apartment, a period radio features cued sound effects. “Each station comes in, as separate elements that can be cued to the action,” says Rothenberg, who also created the 1938 audience on top of the real audience: “You, as a modern audience, are superimposed on the audience in the play.” He also strove to make the music sound authentic as if there were an orchestra in the pit.

“The music was unamplified in those days for burlesque,” Rothenberg explains, “With the singers, strippers, and comics on stage, they would simply come downstage center and belt it out.” As a result, the cast of The Nance is not wearing mikes at all.

Since the performers are not wearing microphones, there are area mikes on the set hidden in various places, some hidden in the set as they go upstage and standard floor mikes across the front of the stage. “They are there basically as reinforcement and the lift its nice to have,” says Rothenberg. “Vocally it is not really an amplified show, the mikes are just there to even and balance things out.”

The band is located backstage, down a hallway upstage, and as Rothenberg points out: “they can’t hear what’s going on very well acoustically, so they have video and audio monitors.” There are five musicians—piano, trumpet, keyboards, winds, and the drummer, who also does all the live special effects, Foley, and slapstick sounds. “He was in rehearsals from the very beginning,” Rothenberg adds, noting that there are “speakers coming from the pit, to make it sound as if the musicians are in the pit.”

The rig comprises almost entirely d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers with Meyer subs, and some EAW units pointed at the ceiling for reverb effects, “When people are yelling from the faux audience,” explains Rothenberg. The gear, including an Avid Profile console was supplied by Masque Sound (see gear list below).

“Director Jack O’Brien was very much committed to the idea of doing it unamplified, so we really worked together to make sure the actors did what they needed to do and really be heard,” says Rothenberg.

“Actors doing musical numbers without wearing mikes is not the norm today, so we worked on figuring out what the sound needed to be— a bold, brash Burlesque sound. We discussed how to do it, and in deciding to do it un-miked, you have to wrap your head around how to make it work,” Rothenberg adds. “It all fell into place and we said we can really do this, never a moment that it couldn’t work.”

Board op Mark Salzberg, and A2 Liz Coleman are running the show. “It is a very precise dance of how you are mixing it to make it feel rich and live,” compliments Rothenberg. “I can provide the system and get it sounding right, but they need to run it and make it sound good every night.” He also gives props to Glen Kelly for the “great original music,” and Larry Blank for “orchestrations that are full where they need to be and thin where they need to be. Overall The Nance was a great experience,” Rothenberg concludes. An experience capped by a Tony, no less.

The Nance

Selected Sound Gear/Provided by Masque Sound

Computers

2 Apple Mac Mini Newer model, w/QLab v2 Pro Audio/Midi, Apple Remote

2 RME Fireface 800

Consoles

Avid Profile console with 1 Avid ANO A-Net Output Card and 4 Avid DSO Digital Output Card

1 Avid ANO A-Net Output Card

4 Avid DSO Digital Output Card

1 Avid FOH Rack w/ 5 DSP Cards, Ethernet Card, IOx Card, 2nd Snake Card

6 Avid SRI Analog Input Card

3 Avid SRO Analog Output Card

2 Avid Stage Rack

Waves Mecury Bundle Plugins iLok Key and Auth for Profile

Microphones

4 Radial J48

Microphone

3 DPA 4061-XLR Black

DPA 4099B-XLR

1 ElectroVoice RE20

1 Royer 121

2 Schoeps CMC6/MK4

3 Sennheiser e904

1 Sennheiser e906

7 Sennheiser MKH40

6 Shure 514B

5 Shure 565SD

1 Shure SM91

Monitoring

1 Aviom A16D-Pro

6 Aviom A16II w/Doghouse and Stand Clamp

Processing

3 Yamaha DME64N 

6 Yamaha MY-16AE

2 Yamaha MY-DA96

Speakers & Amps

Amplifiers

8 d&b audiotechnik D12

9 d&b audiotechnik D6

1 d&b audiotechnik R70 Ethernet Interface

13 Yamaha H5000

Loudspeakers

12 Anchor AN-1000x w/ Yoke

12 d&b audiotechnikE0 W/ Plate

16 d&b audiotechnikE3 w/ Yoke

1 d&b audiotechnik Q-Sub

5 d&b audiotechnik Q1

7 d&b audiotechnik Q7 6 w/ Yoke

4 EAW JF-60 w/ Yoke

10 EAW JF-80 w/ Yoke

0 EAW JFX-200 w/ Yoke

2 EAW UB-12 w/ Yoke

10 Galaxy Microspot w/ Yoke

5 Meyer Sound MM-4 W/Yoke

6 Meyer UPJ-1P

2 Meyer USW-1P