Produced by the Sell A Door Theatre Company, ‘Footloose’ is playing residencies at 30 regional theatres around the UK. Sound designer Chris Whybrow has specified GEO M6 for the main PA. “Footloose is doing a huge range of venues. The M6 system enables me to scale the rig up and down dependent on the size of the room. The great thing is how compact and lightweight the system is: it’s very quick to set up and, importantly, it delivers the coverage and SPL that this show needs.”
Rental company Orbital Sound has provided a touring inventory of 24x M620 cabinets, with 80° dispersion. In the larger venues, this is configured in two clusters with 6 per side for the stalls, with up to another 6 per side for balconies. NEXO’s LS18 subs handle the low end, usually 4 cabinets for the system.
Whybrow continues, “I was really impressed with it, the size more than anything; the high SPL you get out of it such a small box is kind of staggering. You can hang the whole 12 boxes off a gallows arm on a proscenium arch and that’s unheard of in musical theatre.
“I think – especially in the UK market – that, given the size of the standard prosc arch theatre, you haven’t really got room for bigger boxes. You need a decent point source box or in bigger venues you need a decent line array system to be able to hit the back.”
Touring head of sound Piers Archer, the man behind the mixer every night, explains, “in theatres you have to consider weight limitations and sightlines, as well as maintaining correct coverage and throw for the premium seats. Because the GEO M6 is so compact and lightweight, it means we can put a full system into every venue we tour in, without compromise.”
Front fill is provided by the brand-new ID24 super-compact loudspeakers, just released by NEXO, with 6 units mounted across the lip of the stage. Says Archer, “those are great. They don’t weigh anything and they’re 120 degrees wide, which gives you a nice even coverage across the front. And the rigging of them, the way those frames work, it’s just one quick-release pin so we don’t have to spend ages unbolting; it’s one pin, speaker off in the box, rigging in the box, done.
“Chris Whybrow’s system design gives you high energy on all of the songs. It also cleverly draws you into the dynamic during the tense acting scenes. With this set-up, I use the front-fill for imaging and to pull focus alongside the even coverage across the front.”
Orbital Sound boss Chris Headlam calls the GEO M6 a “benchmark leader in terms of weight, rigging speed and economy, all of which are vital to touring musical theatre. Of course, some specifiers are drawn to the most expensive toys or the most established brand names, but the more mature view is that the end result is more important than the badge – we are moving towards fresh solutions that facilitate touring whilst maintaining first-class sound.”