Broadway classic comedy How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying has been recently resurrected in a 50th anniversary production at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York City. For sound reinforcement, Jon Weston, sound designer for the show and principal of Jon Weston Design, specified the non-powered UPA-1C loudspeakers, a Meyer Sound legacy product that was released in the early 1990s and is no longer in production.
The UPA-1C loudspeaker was a favorite among sound designers before Meyer Sound pioneered self-powered loudspeakers in the mid-1990s to incorporate onboard amplifiers, processing, and control circuits. Many of Meyer Sound's self-powered systems have since become a staple in touring sound and on Broadway, including the UPA-1P, the self-powered version of the UPA-1C loudspeaker.
"I pick all the gear based on my experience with it and what I know we want to accomplish with the show. And based on the size of the theatre and how it fits in the set," Weston explains. "I have a history with, and a preference for, Meyer Sound."
Production Resource Group (PRG) was the provider of the UPA-1C system for How to Succeed in Business. "Jon tends to rely on fewer speakers in a theatrical application than others might deploy for the same project," says David Strang, PRG's general manager, audio. "Because of this, the voicing of each individual speaker, both in terms of what type he chooses and, even amongst that type, which ones he chooses, is very important to him."
Weston was pleased as soon as the UPA-1C loudspeakers were fired up. "There's very little EQ in the system—nearly none," says Weston. "And from the first moment we turned the rig on, people just said 'Wow. Now that is a wholesome sound.'"
Weston's fondness for Meyer Sound's legacy products extends to many other models. "I continue to use the stuff I was raised on," he confides. "Which is 'conventional' Meyer. When it comes to a small-scale, musical subwoofer, nothing touches the USW-1. We use that all the time. USW, UPM—any of the conventional UltraSeries are all over my shows. The MSL-2 [loudspeaker] always has a spot. It has been in just about every one of my shows."
Strang reports that the Meyer Sound product line is well-suited for theatrical applications. "We obviously are attracted to products that not only have longevity in the marketplace," Strang continues, "but are also built in such a way that they will last. Meyer products have longevity even with the constant and heavy use that they get. We still have some non-powered Meyer products that have been in our inventory for 15 years and more that are kept in tip-top condition and are ready to deploy at a moment's notice."
PRG's large Meyer Sound inventory also includes a number of newer products that are regularly heard on Broadway shows, such as the M'elodie line array loudspeakers and the JM-1P arrayable loudspeakers. "We love innovation," Strang concludes, "but we also have to make responsible investment decisions when we're choosing what gear we're going to get behind. We wouldn't be as close in partnership with Meyer in so many different markets, as well as on Broadway, if there wasn't a reasonable return on investment and a very good, positive and growing relationship between us."
The audio infrastructure for How to Succeed in Business also includes Meyer Sound's MM-4 miniature loudspeakers and legacy MSL-2 loudspeakers, in addition to a Cadac J-Type Live Production Console and microphones from SCHOEPS to Shure, beyerdynamic, Earthworks Audio, DPA, Neumann, and Sennheiser.
The present incarnation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying stars Daniel Radcliffe (of "Harry Potter" fame) as J. Pierrepont Finch, a window washer who climbs the corporate ladder thanks to Shepherd Mead's satirical self-help book of the same name.