Rivage PM3 mixes Vanara The Musical premiere
Tuesday, 16 November 2021
hackneyempirejanehobsonThe world premiere of Vanara The Musical at Hackney Empire (photo © JaneHobson)
UK - At the end of October London’s Hackney Empire theatre was the setting for the world premiere of Vanara The Musical, a timely tale of environmental disaster and tribal conflict with a message of hope and unity. Sound operator Ollie Dudman mixed Olly Steel’s sound design on a Yamaha Rivage PM3 digital mixing system.
Olly Steel first used Yamaha digital mixers in 2008, as sound #2 on the High School Musical UK tour, with a system designed by Rick Clarke. “I used Yamaha digital systems on various productions after that, especially when I was doing sound design in my own right and was able to specify the system,” he says.
“When the Rivage PM10 system came out in 2014, I was sold! It had everything I wanted and I knew that, with some extra development and tailoring, it could be a very powerful system for theatre. I said that if it could potentially do more than 144 channels, a Rivage PM system would be ideal for any musical on the planet, but it would also benefit greatly from a scalable form factor.”
In touring and short theatre runs, time is always at a premium. For a new production like Vanara The Musical, it is even more of an issue, especially as it had some unconventional elements. These included the musicians being on a 3.5m stage riser and a range of instruments which are unusual for musical theatre, including electric cello, taiko drums, ocarina and bansuri.
The Rivage PM3 system was supplied by Stage Sound Services and Olly chose to do everything in the Dante domain, including playback and multi-track recording.
“For a show which was modestly-sized in both scope and budget, it had a lot to achieve and it featured very big, epic-sounding pieces of music. Score-wise it was like nothing I’d known before,” he says. “Being able to do everything in Dante was a godsend because, if we had gone down the MADI route, it would have cost a lot of money. The composer wanted multitracks from every performance and we were able provide them without it increasing the cost.”
He continues, “We loaded in on Monday, with the first performance on Friday. The system really helped in terms of the available time. The trouble with the software of some other systems is that it’s so complicated, you have to work hard to know exactly what it’s going to do. I really enjoy the simplicity of the Rivage PM theatre mode.”

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