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THE LION KING on Broadway Celebrates its 20 Year Anniversary With a KV2 Audio Upgrade

 
 
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After 20 landmark years on Broadway, THE LION KING continues ascendant as one of the most popular stage musicals in the world. Since its premiere on November 13, 1997, 24 global productions have been seen by more than 95 million people. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), THE LION KING is the only show in history to generate six productions worldwide running 15 or more years.

The internationally acclaimed, six-time Tony Award® winning Broadway musical, and highest-grossing Broadway production of all time celebrated its 20th Anniversary on Broadway in November, 2017. The production, which first opened in 1997 at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre, moved venues to the nearby Minskoff Theatre, where it has been since 2006. Performing eight performances a week, THE LION KING is the third longest running production in broadway history, surpassed only by Chicago and Phantom of The Opera, the latter of which entered its 30th year in January 2018.

The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from "Rhythm of the Pride Lands," an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer. The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, ranging from the Academy Award®-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” to the haunting ballad “Shadowland.”  

The 20th anniversary system overhaul was a collaborative design effort by Steve Kennedy, John Shivers, Hugh Sweeney and David Patridge. As the show did not halt performances for this overhaul, the team had to install the system in phases on “dark days” so as to not disturb the performers and showtimes. On completion, Shivers remarks: “We have received positive comments from pretty much everyone involved with THE LION KING‘s 20th anniversary. Mark Mancina (composer) and Dave Metzger (orchestrator) both commented that the sound of the production was the "best we have ever heard on any production of THE LION KING”. This is nothing new of course… frequently, fellow audio professionals, musicians, producers and audience members hear KV2 speakers and comment on how amazing they sound.

Shivers remarks: “THE LION KING and much of its success can be attributed to the beautifully composed, orchestrated and executed music. The subtlety, nuance and wide dynamics in the score, vocal arrangements, orchestrations and effects all lead to an evocative and at times visceral experience. The newly installed system enables us to accurately present every detail as it was intended. The KV2 system reveals every nuance.”

The Minskoff Theatre stands in the very heart of New York’s Times Square, with spectacular views across the urban landscape. As you enter the room, the large size is immediately striking as Broadway houses can often be quite small in comparison. Where typically a large format Line Array system might have otherwise been applied in an equivalent sized installation, the physical size of the KV2 system appears very neat and surprisingly unobtrusive in the room. The main system, is a dual hanging A/B left and right comprising of ESR215 full range three way cabinets, with a center cluster of 4x SL412. The balcony delays are again an A/B L+R hang of ESR212 with an A/B center cluster of 2x SL412. As under-balcony fills and throughout the theater there are hangs of EX6, ESD6 and ESD10. On his experience with the system, Mixing Engineer Alain Van Achte adds “the detail and accuracy of the KV2 system makes mixing the show easier and more rewarding. I am able to hear more nuances and respond accordingly. As if I were listening to reference monitors for example. I am confident that with the KV2 system I am delivering the soundscape that has been envisioned for THE LION KING.”

On the decision to hang the system with a dual hang configuration the designers commented: “For THE LION KING in New York  we wanted to maintain many of the original design concepts, one of which was the A/B speaker system design. This offers the advantage of minimizing the phasing effect that occurs when two open omnidirectional microphones are presented to the same physical speaker cabinets at the same time. When the actors microphones are combined acoustically through the redundant speaker systems, as opposed to electronically, the objectionable phasing artifacts are greatly reduced.

This production marks the 10th show design for Shivers using KV2 and now represents a history built on success implementing the product. On these repeated specifications, Shivers remarks “I have been a fan of KV2 since I first heard and subsequently specified them on the Stage Entertainment production of Das Wunder Von Bern in 2013. The Point Source design offers precise clarity and musicality that few if any other profession speaker systems currently achieve”. It is like using a ‘hi-fi reference speaker’ for a pro-sound application.”

THE LION KING - official website

This questioning and re-education of the best approach to modern day system design in theatre sound is one that KV2 users are regularly undergoing, with results confirming that Point Source technology, when executed well, is the superior approach to achieving transparent natural sound. “George has one of the largest anechoic testing chambers in Europe and he is meticulous in ensuring that drivers, horns, cabinets and amplifiers work together to provide a series of speakers which are second to none. I would say it is the attention to meticulous detail which differentiates the KV2 loudspeakers from the rest,” adds Patridge, “KV2 speakers are designed as a comprehensive system of custom components, cabinet designs and amplification with a holistic approach. George Krampera Sr. has a long track record as a transducer designer and even his historical designs for manufacturers [such as RCF and B&C )are very much in demand by other loudspeaker manufacturers. When compared to deploying a Line Array system, KV2 offers similar coverage and SPL, but with a greatly reduced physical footprint, weight and cost."

  

In addition to the flagship New York City production, THE LION KING, is also touring the US with KV2’s EX and ESD lines. The Broadway production continues with 8 performances a week to consistently sold out crowds.

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