Staged at Munich’s Werk 7 theatre, Die Fabelhafte Welt der Amélie (The Fabulous World of Amélie) is a complete re-realisation of the musical version of the popular movie, Amélie, incorporating the original score and book by Daniel Messé, along with music from the composer of the film, Jann Tiersen.
Paul Gatehouse was asked to create the sound design by Simone Linhof, the Creative Producer at Stage Entertainment, Germany, and as part of the complex audio design he deployed a pair of Optocore’s DD4MR-FX to give him the large quantity of MADI channels required.
Speaking of the production, Gatehouse said: “I’ve worked with Simone and Stage Entertainment many times over the years and I was thrilled to be asked to design this production. The real attraction was the brief created by the producers and Christoph Drewitz, our Director. They wanted the production to feel deeply organic and hand-made, and the music had to have a rich acoustic texture, with the cast performing a lot of the sound effects vocally or with props in real time. I also really liked the songs Daniel has written, and after hearing Will Stuart’s orchestration demos, I was in!”
Stage Entertainment had done an excellent job in transforming the intimate space, and the show that was in the theatre previously had laid a lot of the groundwork in terms of acoustic treatment and layout of the rigging grid.
The main driver that informed the approach to Paul Gatehouse’s sound design, and in particular the speaker positioning was the placement of the five-piece band in the open, on a raised balcony, which was scenically designed to look like a living room space and a kitchen. “This ties them into the action and we were determined to not screen them off and to manage their acoustic level at a source,” he said. “Therefore I knew that I needed a split system to reinforce the band from their location and a separate vocal system ‘in the round’ to reinforce the cast vocals with good imaging to the three-sided performance area.”
Stage Entertainment holds a large inventory of sound equipment and the designer elected to use their KV2 SL412 loudspeakers as the main system, along with smaller KV2 speakers (EX26, EX6, ESD25, ES6, ES5) as fills and delays.
“I’m a long time DiGiCo user and rely on the ’T’ theatre software as the backbone of my workflow, so we reached a good place where I could add some of my tools to their stock, mainly the SD10T and UAD-2 Live Racks, which I use to process plug-ins via inserts and are a big part of the sound.”
Stage Ent also owns a StageTec Nexus system, which Gatehouse described as “an incredible eco-system of physical I/O boxes and a routing matrix. Its internal connections run on fibre but we needed an interface to get in and out of the Nexus via MADI.”
This is where the Optocore DD4MR-FX units come in. “The Optocore devices gave us 128 inputs and outputs of MADI to fibre conversion at 96kHz, by using two units on an optical loop. The DD4s sit between our DiGiCo SD10 console and StageTec Nexus StarRouter, which handles all our physical I/O and signal routing. These interfaces are incredibly easy to configure and always feel rock solid.
“In fact every show I do generally have an Optocore device somewhere in the system, whether it’s the integrated fibre loop of our DiGiCo console network, MADI interfacing to provide I/O to orchestra monitor mixing systems or MADI multitrack capture at FOH to work offline with material from the show. As the DD4 units sit in such a vital point in the chain, I’d always reach for an Optocore converter and feel confident about how they are going to perform.”
This is important, he stated, as their sound reinforcement systems are getting more and more complex with high levels of resolution in the digital audio chain as well as the I/O count. “Having reliability in these large systems is the top priority, the DD4s handle this without issue. We are using well over 96 ins and outs, which is sizeable for a small cast and band—but it was great to have the full 128 I/O capacity of two DD4 units available to us.”
Production is using several different signal transmission formats—MADI for all cast and band sources at the console, as well as MADI out of the console back into the Nexus. “We have Dante for our Q-Lab inputs and then AES outputs to drive our Galileo loudspeaker management.”
Paul Gatehouse was assisted by production sound engineer, Marcus Giesen. “He did an amazing job of installing the system at Werk7. He has a great knowledge of all the equipment we use and is a vital part of the team. Dennis Schmidt mixes the show, along with Alex and David who also look after our radio mics and cast requirements backstage.”