Subscribe to CX E-News
Broadway’s First L-ISA Immersive Design
Ten years after its debut at The Public Theater’s LuEsther Hall off-Broadway in New York City, Here Lies Love has returned to the Big Apple with numerous ‘firsts’.
Following subsequent runs in London and Seattle, the hit musical created by Talking Heads founder David Byrne with music from Byrne and Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, is now enjoying its Broadway debut at Manhattan’s historic Broadway Theatre.
It’s also distinguished as the first Broadway production to feature an all-Filipino cast who dramatise Imelda Marcos’ rise to prominence and downfall in the Philippines. But the latest iteration of Here Lies Love is also breaking new ground technology-wise in that it’s the first Broadway event to feature L-ISA immersive technology, which is used to deliver highly engaging spatialised sound to audiences in multiple areas via more than 220 L-Acoustics loudspeakers, supplied by L-Acoustics Certified Partner PRG.
For the production, Scenic Designer David Korins gave the Broadway Theatre’s classic layout a major transformation, converting the venue’s traditional proscenium floor space into a dance club environment by first removing all of the orchestra seats. There, standing audience members can enjoy moving with the performers, acting as an integral part of the story. For those preferring to sit, there are multiple options: two 90-foot-long rows of elevated gallery seats flanking and overlooking the left and right sides of the dance floor; a large mezzanine; and an exclusive Club Lounge section located just under the front mezzanine. Suffice to say, such a unique theatrical space and wide variety of audience geometries required a complex sound design.
“Here Lies Love is a unique show in which the audience blends with the performers; it can be experienced from the dance floor, from seats around the dance floor, or seated in a traditional setting,” says Sound Designer Cody Spencer, who co-designed the show with M.L. Dogg.
“We chose L-ISA immersive sound so we could provide the same enveloping immersive experience no matter where the audience is.
We actually have six different zones that we are controlling with two L-ISA Processors, which we’re running in tandem. We have an L-ISA Processor doing the dance floor’s 360-degree sound, and then we have another one for the frontal system, which is the voices in the front with surrounds and stuff all around. Where L-ISA came in really handy here is to give people up in the mezzanines the experience of sound going around them and not just in front of them, because with most theatrical experiences, the sound is only in front of you.”
The Broadway Theatre’s current L-ISA installation boasts over 220 speakers in a full surround configuration to bring all of the drama and excitement of the poignant story to each audience member. The fully immersive dance floor area is covered by 14 L-Acoustics A Series arrays: three hangs of one A15 Focus over two A15 Wide are flown above the two short ends of the rectangular floor space, while four hangs of two A10 Wide line each of the long sides of the floor. Runway fill is supplied by two centrally flown arrays of A10 Wide, with a pair of X8 providing additional fill when the axis of the runway is rotated 90 degrees. A ring of 16 compact 5XT dot the perimeter of the actor walkways surrounding the dancefloor to provide additional localised fill.
In the traditional theatre audience seating area upstairs, three more A Series arrays, each comprised of four A15 or A1, hang over the first mezzanine in an LCR arrangement while three arrays of seven Kara II cover the larger rear mezzanine. A variety of X12, X8, and X4i enclosures provide fill for other locations, including the gallery seating areas, while two dozen KS21 subs distributed around the room solidly anchor the system’s club-like low end. A total of 50 LA4X amplified controllers, all fed via Milan AVB, drive the system. The AVB feed comes from a MADI output converted from the show’s DiGiCo Quantum7T mixing console found in the house mix bunker located just under the DJ station.
“L-ISA spatial audio gives us the tools we need to quickly and efficiently program a 360-degree experience that conveys the excitement and nuance of each musical moment in the show,” Spencer adds.
“On Here Lies Love, whether you’re standing on the floor or you’re sitting up in the mezzanine, you’re really feeling like you’re encompassed and you’re part of the show as opposed to ‘there’s a proscenium here, and I’m watching the show that’s down there.’ I am so excited for people to experience the sound of this show; I am confident this is just the beginning of L-ISA on Broadway.”
Photo Credit: Billy Bustamante, Matthew Murphy, and Evan Zimmerman
Published monthly since 1991, our famous AV industry magazine is free for download or pay for print. Subscribers also receive CX News, our free weekly email with the latest industry news and jobs.