Meyer Sound supports The Drifters Girl
Tuesday, 6 September 2022
thedriftersThe Drifters Girl continues at London’s Garrick Theatre
UK - Currently playing an extended run in London’s Garrick Theatre, The Drifters Girl tells the story of Faye Treadwell, the long-time manager of The Drifters, by interweaving her personal narrative with 20 concert-level performances of the seminal R&B/pop group’s chart-topping hits. To maintain the full impact of both the dramatic and musical elements, sound designer Tom Marshall deployed a strategically placed and balanced system of Meyer Sound point source loudspeakers and compact subwoofers.
The intimate Garrick Theatre is an acoustically and architecturally challenging venue that was built in 1889 and now seats 712 patrons on three levels.
“The Garrick has interesting challenges when it comes to putting a ‘pop’ musical in the space,” relates Marshall. “Loudspeaker positioning is tricky due to the nature of the proscenium opening and the first set of box seats, which together prevent standard speaker positions from covering the whole auditorium.”
Using Meyer Sound’s MAPP 3D acoustical prediction software, Marshall plotted a solution to deliver uniform coverage and impact throughout the house. Because the main UPQ‑D1 loudspeakers had to be set further back, a pair of ULTRA‑X40 compact loudspeakers was aimed to cover the front few rows in the narrowest part of the venue. Also, because the theatre has a long overhang in the stalls, two rows of discreet UP‑4slim delay loudspeakers were rigged to the ceiling. “Fortunately, the minimal weight of the UP-4slims raised no issues with the plaster ceiling,” notes Marshall.
The “playhouse feel” of the venue also dictated fills to cover the far sides of each level, with ULTRA‑X20 compact wide coverage loudspeakers dedicated to this application. Finally, with no hanging points for an advance truss and only a static truss spanning the two uppermost boxes with a relatively low trim height, there were no options for a centre line array. “We used two horizontal ULTRA-X40 loudspeakers with 70-degree side plates for upper and lower centre coverage, and it works very well,” says Marshall.
Solid, well-defined bass is critical for driving an R&B sound, but floor space around the proscenium was limited. “Thankfully, the 900‑LFC [compact low-frequency control element] solved this,” says Marshall, “as its small footprint allowed us to squeeze in one per side. It proved so effective we didn’t need anything more for the lower part of the theatre.” Bass for the upper levels was augmented by a pair of flown 750‑LFC low-frequency control elements, and eight UPJ‑1P compact loudspeakers were arranged for stage foldback.
All Meyer Sound loudspeakers for the production were provided by Stage Sound Services of Cardiff. “We’ve had a very close working relationship with Tom over the years,” says Phil Hurley, director of the company.
The sound success of The Drifters Girl is a team effort, and Marshall gives full credit to associate sound designer Dan Evans along with original A1 Harry Barker and A2 Adam Fenton, with thanks to production sound engineer Dan Gregory and his crew for installing the system.
Marshall and Stage Sound Services also teamed up to power the audio on a recently launched UK tour of the hit musical, Sister Act. The system is similar to that for The Drifters Girl, but with additional UPQ-D1 and ULTRA-X40 loudspeakers on hand for scaling up to larger venues. The Sister Act tour is currently slated to play in 30 cities, with dates scheduled into January of 2024 and extensions beyond that likely.

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