Dame Edna bids farewell with Norwest

Monday, 30 July 2012
Dame Edna bids farewell with NorwestPrevious Dame Edna shows have included just a pianist and maybe a video but this time it's a mini-musical
Australia - Iconic performer, satirist, artist and comedian Barry Humphries, is taking his final bow during his farewell tour entitled Eat, Pray, Laugh!. While the Honourable Sir Les Patterson, Sandy Stone and Moonee Ponds' legendary housewife, Dame Edna are not officially retiring, Australia's greatest Dame insists that this will be her final tour.

During the all-singing, all-dancing spectacular, Dame Edna promises to "empower" audiences as she meditates on the big issues of gender, ethnicity and climate change.

While Act One of Eat Pray Laugh! features Humphries with his friends, this really serves as "just a bit of foreplay really before I make an orgasmic appearance in Act Two", Dame Edna says.

Norwest Productions are providing the audio for the tour and FOH operator for the show is one of their long time employees Aaron Mason. The show poses some unusual problems for Mason including the inclusion of a life size elephant and dealing with the copious amounts of spit that Sir Les Patterson sprays over the sound gear!

The elephant transports Dame Edna onto the stage at the beginning of Act II and although it plays a very small - yet integral - part in the show, it causes a few challenges for the sound crew.

"The elephant is three metres high and in some of the venues we are playing it means that the PA has to be hung very high," explained Mason. "In Newcastle I couldn't actually see it from my console."

The PA comprises of 22 L-Acoustics Kudo line array speakers setup in various configurations based on the dimensions of the theatre. Added to that are two L-Acoustics SB218, eight Martin EM15 speakers for front-fill and six EAW JF80 for delays. Nine Lab Gruppen plm10000q and six Lab Gruppen fp6400 amplifiers power the system.

Another unusual aspect to the production is the requirement for a very clear and open stage which means that Aaron cannot place his EAW SM200 wedges at the front of the stage. Consequetly they are hidden side of stage and also within the onstage hedges along with four RCF speakers.

For the characters of Sir Les and his brother Gerard as well as Sandy, DPA4061 lapel microphones are used.

"Sir Les has them on his shirt lapels but we have to place them fairly wide because he spits so much," said Aaron. "Previously he has worn them like a normal lapel microphone closer to the buttons of the shirt but unfortunately the capsules would often get water logged! They seem to work just as well wider out and fortunately he doesn't seem to spit in that direction."

The dancers use DPA4066 headsets whilst Dame Edna actually has a couple of Sennheiser EM3032 radio microphones located within her legendary glasses.

"Previous Dame Edna shows have included just a pianist and maybe a video but this time it's a mini-musical which makes controlling FOH more complex in terms of getting lapels and getting levels over that, singing and punchy backing tracks," commented Mason.

A QLab Replay System is used from a Mac computer side of stage to run effects - mainly Sir Les on the toilet with his chronic diarrhoea.

At FOH Mason uses a Yamaha DM2000 console with Dolby Lake 4/12 System Processors and he has to keep on his toes as Barry Humphries will quite often go off script.

"Act 1 has three characters; Sir Les, Gerard and Sandy, and each costume and mic change takes less than a minute which creates a fairly fast running show," he added.

(Jim Evans)

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