Created and directed by Roman Polanski, the theatre production of Bal de Vampires has an impressive 16-year track record, reaching over one million viewers in 12 countries. Currently playing in Paris at the Mogador Theatre, sound design for the rock-based musical production is in the deft and award winning hands of Tom Strebel and the team from Basel-based audiopool.
For Strebel, the greatest focus had to be on the intelligibility of the speech, as in his words, the production is “a very dynamic show, with a big rather than a very loud sound and as such, we needed plenty of low end and headroom to get the energy we wanted. Dance of the Vampires is very cleverly written with good songs and orchestrations, and very dense arrangements that nevertheless allow enough room to put in the vocals. Clarity was a priority, and a lot of work was done by the creative team on diction.”
Strebel specified TiMax2 SoundHub audio delay matrix with the TiMax Tracker automation system, the staple tools in his armoury for executing impeccable intelligibility on vast stages and on complex productions such as this one. Strebel explains, “Our justification for TiMax SoundHub was to help bring out the clarity of speech, to aid intelligibility, Usin TiMax Tracker control to make the sound automatically follow the actors around the wide stage, "
The stage zones were reflected onto a straightforward left and right music system comprised of the permanent house full delay and surround system, made up of principally L-Acoustic 8XT driven by LA4 amplifiers, and Meyer Sound UP Juniors, augmented with an all-d&b audiotechnik loudspeaker arrangement comprised of 15 T-10 cabinets aside for the main Left/Right music system with J-Subs, a separate T-10/Q-10/E6 combination for the vocal system flown Left/Centre/Right system – all amplified by d&b audiotechnik D6 and D12s for the vocals, with front fills, whilst d&b audiotechnik Q7s were used for stage monitoring, and E8s for stage FX.
At the Paris theatre, Strebel worked closely alongside associate sound designer Laurenz Zschokke, and the Mogador's resident head of sound, Bertrand Billon as production engineer. Strebel has a long association with Out Board and the TiMax range of products and Out Board’s Robin Whittaker was on hand for TiMax Tracker setup and to assist programming of the Haas precedence-based image-definitions in the SoundHub delay-matrix.
The detailed perspective creator and director Polanski brought to the production impressed Strebel, who commented, “He is incredibly knowledgeable and knows exactly what he wants to achieve. This is a visually stunning show, and works beautifully in this theatre. But it also has considerable depth, and the combination is extraordinary. We had a great team spirit on Dance of the Vampires, which made getting to grips with what is a very complicated show both enjoyable and exciting. The more advanced and sophisticated the requirement, the less time you have to do everything! We all worked hard together and are pleased at the end result, although you never actually finish refining and fine-tuning."