Added on 17-Feb-2007
South Africa - Even 15 years after the death of lead singer and consummate showman Freddie Mercury, fans still rank Queen as the greatest rock band of all time. For proof positive of their legacy, witness the overwhelming success of We Will Rock You, a musical based on their song catalogue that has proved a worldwide sensation.
Written by noted British author Ben Elton in conjunction with band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, We Will Rock You has sold over four million tickets in London, Tokyo, Moscow, and many other cities around the world in four years. Six main cast members backed by a sizable ensemble, a live band, huge sets that change in seconds, synched video, dozens of sound effects, over 200 lighting changes, and a long equipment list make the technical scope of this show mi
Tickets were snatched up for the recent Johannesburg, South Africa premiere at the 1,069-seat Nelson Mandela Theatre. However, while audiences are clearly excited by We Will Rock You's elaborate production, in the end, the show is about the music of Queen, a point made strongly by the substantial system of Meyer Sound loudspeakers supplied for the show by Johannesburg's Prosound Ltd.
Prosound's Mark Malherbe, who designed the sound system for the show's South African run, says that Prosound realised that the unparalleled performance and ease-of-use of Meyer Sound's self-powered systems were their best answer to WWRY's needs. "Originally, there was an existing centre cluster kit in the theatre, so the system requirements specified a different line array system to go with it," Malherbe says. "However, we knew we required better speech intelligibility than it could deliver. That, factored with the convenience of a powered system that we could set up much quicker, since it was basically going to be used as a 'touring package' after these show dates, helped us decide on Meyer."
The system was anchored by flown left and right arrays of eight MICA compact high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers, each supplemented by two groundstacked 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers. The centre cluster, which provides fill to crucial spots in the building where coverage is difficult, features four CQ-1 wide coverage main loudspeakers and five CQ-2 narrow coverage main loudspeakers, with four more 700-HP cabinets under the stage for added low-end punch. Front-fill comes from six UPM-1P ultra-compact wide coverage loudspeakers and seven UPA-2P compact narrow coverage loudspeakers, with sub-bass for the upper balcony supplied by two flown M3D-Sub directional subwoofers. An LD-3 compensating line driver is used for system processing and drive, while the singers keep in synch with the help of six legacy, traditionally powered UM-1C Ultra-Monitors.
Design and installation of the system was simple. Using the original plot as a base, Malherbe employed Meyer Sound's MAPP Online Pro acoustical prediction software to do a quick redesign of the left and right clusters.
A Meyer Sound system was, in Malherbe's mind, pretty much a foregone conclusion. "We've been using Meyer for about four years now," he says. "Since we own the largest line array system in sub-Saharan Africa, we've done the vast majority of theatre productions in South Africa for the past few years. We've had nothing but success using Meyer Sound loudspeakers, which made it an obvious choice for this show."
After Johannesburg, We Will Rock You also played in Cape Town and Durban before finishing its South African run. Productions continue running in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Portugal, and Zurich, in addition to the original production in London, which was scheduled to close in October but then was extended indefinitely due to popular demand. In early 2007, a new production opens at Toronto, Canada's Canon Theatre.