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JBL Professional line arrays chosen for new Bob Marley musical

24 VTX A8 enclosures and 10 VTX B18 single 18in subs rigged at London's Lyric Theatre

Leading musical theatre sound designer, Tony Gayle, has chosen HARMAN’s JBL Professional VTX A8 next-generation line array as his preferred PA system for the new production of Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical. A total of 24 JBL VTX A8 enclosures and 10 accompanying JBL VTX B18 single 18in subs have been rigged at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End.

The system is powered by 10 of HARMAN’s Crown I-Tech 4x3500HD amps, which also handle any processing that’s necessary. The full sound and communication package is supplied and supported by Cardiff based Stage Sound Services.

Produced by Playful Productions, Stage Play and Cedella Marley, the production celebrates the life of the Jamaican global superstar, played by Arinzé Kene, and Gayle wanted to ensure that the sound produced by the nine musicians was as authentic as possible.

“The whole show is performed by a live band from a platform in the wings, with no pre-records,” he confirmed. “Part of the creative brief was not to produce it as pure ‘musical theatre’ as that format wouldn’t work for this show. This had to sound authentic as these are not typical pit musicians.”

Although Gayle considered other established theatre speaker brands, he had become an ardent fan of JBL’s VTX platform since first attending a demo of the larger VTX A12 at the Troxy in east London several years ago.

“I was the only theatre engineer present – the others were from the rock world – and I was extremely impressed. I said then that if JBL could make a smaller version with the same acoustic properties that would fit the theatre I’d be interested. So I like to think I had some influence!”

In conclusion, Gayle says his decision to specify the JBL VTX A8 had been fully vindicated. He dismissed other considerations either because they needed too much processing “and I didn’t want to be software led”, or “they lacked that authentic, impactful sound required by reggae.”

As for the physical dimensions, he notes, “The A8s are not so deep that you feel they are poking out of the proscenium. But in any case I am happy to display them as I have a big thing with image, and unlike some, the A8 also looks good. When punters walk into an auditorium they don’t care about brands, yet if the speakers look ugly they immediately form a preconception. So we’re selling the sound before they actually see and hear the show.”