Action Jackson, Part 3: Sound For Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

For sound designer Bart Fasbender, Broadway’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson meant more of everything—“more speakers, more delay lines, a balcony we had to deal with, so it was three to four times more the system it was in the Newman, with boxes and amps but better and smaller wireless units,” he says, adding that the goal was to maintain the concept of a play with loud rock songs in it, so they tried to keep the book scenes as true to a straight play as possible without sounding reinforced. “But you can’t just go from 95db to straight play level right after that without missing a lot of people at the first few sentences as their ears adjust,” he says. “The additional boxes give us the freedom to reach those lower levels easier. We can reach smaller groups more directly with the speakers, and the dropped ceiling really helps us in the balcony, as we could put smaller boxes nearer people and keep the levels lower, maintaining the intimacy.”

The “stuff” was an issue. “There were moments when I said, ‘Hey, Donyale, can I move that chandelier? It’s right in front of my speaker,’ and moving it sometimes conflicted with what Justin wanted to do,” Fasbender says. “The benefit of its omnipresence was that I could stick stage monitors in places and not have to worry about their looking goofy. I have [Meyer Sound] M1Ds, [EAW] JF60s, and three [d&b audiotechnik] E0s onstage that you’ll never see. There was a monitor up there that I could see, so I moved it, and Donyale wanted to know where I put it. The idea of sticking speakers anywhere was fine with her.”

The mass of material was also a determining factor in equipment selection. “The decision to use the d&b T10 speakers for our center array came about because the ceiling was dropped so far down,” Fasbender says. “We had to fit our speakers into the limited space that Donyale had as the border. We had 3' between the dropped ceiling and the top edge of sightlines. Sonically, I was thrilled with what those little speakers could do. The problem was that, on its own, the array didn’t look nearly as powerful as it sounded, but, flanked by the orchestra and balcony fills—the UPA-1Ps—its appearance was hefty enough to satisfy the visual aesthetic the director wanted.”

Stay tuned for more coverage of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson or check out the November-December issue of Live Design.

Robert Cashill, a former editor of the former Lighting Dimensions, has been part of the LD universe since 1994. Cashill, a member of the New York-based Drama Desk and the Online Film Critics Society, is the film editor of He says you know you’re a design writer when you’re happy to have been seated in the mezzanine for a show like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, allowing a fuller view of the production.

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