Blue Box gives new Broadway Theatre a perfect sound.
The venue is designed for a mixed programme encompassing music, theatre, concerts, family friendly performances, contemporary dance and live arts installations. New facilities include an expanded backstage, scenery production storage and rehearsal rooms and technical service areas. The box office, bar and foyer area - a striking glass-walled extension to the building's facade - is itself used for small performances, presentations and events, while the auditorium incorporates new gantries and side balconies.
Jon Brighton, brought in as technical manager to oversee the new facilities, worked with Blue Box, technical consultants Theatreplan, who designed the technical infrastructure, and lighting suppliers AC Lighting.
Brighton takes up the story: “We were considering various audio suppliers and I took the opportunity to listen to a number of systems at the PLASA Show last autumn," he says. "I was particularly impressed with the Funktion-One demo, and they referred me to Mark Metcalf at Blue Box, who came along to hear what we wanted to do and assess the acoustics. We then worked together very successfully on tailoring an installation for the auditorium and the bar / foyer area. We're one of Blue Box's first theatre installations, which I'm very happy about because the whole system is such a perfect solution for us.”
The system Blue Box created for the auditorium is designed for maximum flexibility in this multi-purpose space. It features two portable ground stacks consisting of just one Funktion-One Resolution 2 loudspeaker and one F118 bass cabinets per side. An additional pair of Resolution 2s and F118s is on hand to provide extra power for live music and dance events.
Says Brighton: "We use the doubled-up auditorium system for the more commercial and popular events - in our first season that will mean live shows like the Counterfeit Stones, Complete Madness, Steve Hackett and Glen Tillbrook." They were all preceded on the packed opening night by fellow East-Ender Billy Bragg, who has also become one of the theatre's official Patrons. "We're looking to expand the programme quite quickly to take on more high profile music events," adds Brighton, "and that doubled-up system is going to be used a lot more."
Covering the side balconies is a pair of Funktion-One F88 cabinets and, for the rear balcony, one AX88 'skeletal' twin-axehead wide dispersion unit a side - whose subtle silver-grey finish blended in perfectly with the theatre's interior decor. The whole system is powered by Funktion-One E45 and E25 amplifiers, with QSC amplifiers powering Dynacord monitors on stage. Another pair of Funktion-One F88s covers the new, stylish bar/foyer area, already hosting comedy nights and with DJ/club nights in prospect.
Control includes a Midas Venice 320 console and Blue Box-designed outboard racks with XTA loudspeaker controllers and graphics, Denon CD players, TASCAM MD machines, Roland delay units, Yamaha effects and Drawmer compression. Also on the Broadway's 'wish list' for Blue Box was DJ equipment in the shape of Denon DM4000 CD decks, a pair of Technics SL1210 turntables and a Pioneer DJM600 DJ mixer, and a custom-designed control console to accommodate all the DJ kit, a by-product of the Sussex company's expertise in the nightclub market.
Mark Metcalf comments: "The Broadway needed a system providing top quality, complete flexibility and great aesthetics, but also able to power full-on rock gigs and dance events without blinking. The combination of Funktion-One loudspeakers and a contemporary, compact and sophisticated control system gives them just that."
The last word goes to Jon Brighton: "We have just been incredibly impressed with both the quality of the sound and the quality of Blue Box's design and support. Both are crystal clear and have helped to create an amazing atmosphere at the new Broadway Theatre."