Return to the Forbidden Planet – Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Return to the Forbidden Planet Cast at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London. Photo: Darren Bell

It was a pleasure to return to one our favourite venues in London to supply the equipment for Bob Carlton’s fantastic feel good musical Return to the Forbidden Planet.

The Design

Technically this show was certainly a challenge for sound designer Nico Menghini. The intimate venue was to play host to this massive musical with 11 actor musicians, acoustic drum kit and brass instruments. The show was set up in traverse with the first row of the audience either side, sat with their feet on their stage. Creating a system design for this that would enable amplification to the front row with causing feedback issues with the cast on stage was a difficult task indeed. With a full cast of actor musicians, and such a physical show, we needed to find a way remotely change instrument patches wirelessly. We decided to use Mainstage to do this on various Macs, triggered from a central QLab control stack. We installed a total of 11 Apple Mac Mini’s and 1 MacBook Pro on the show! These were used to send and receive Network OSC messages from QLab to trigger Mainstage Patches and Sound Effects, as well as system control and video playback. The single MacBook on the show did all of this wirelessly for a roaming keyboard.  

Yamaha CL5 control system set up for Rehearsals of Return to the Forbidden Planet

The System

After discussing various options with sound designer Nico Menghini, we supplied a full L-Acoustics system consisting of 6x X8 for the main band system, 4x 5XT as a vocal fill system, 4x 5XT for monitoring, and 2x SB18 for low frequency extension.

For control we supplied a Yamaha CL5, a RIO3224-D, RI8 and RO8 stage boxes, 22x radio mics as well a huge 12 Macs!

The entire show was mic’d using DPA microphones, with the cast on a combination of d:fine 4166 headsets and 4061 hairline mics.

The drum kit mics included a 4006A and 2011C on the kick drum, 2011c used for hi-hats and snare, 4099 on the toms, and 2x 4090 for overheads.

Return to the Forbidden Planet Cast at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London. Photo: Darren Bell

The Result

Wow, what an incredible run full of standing ovations for this cue heavy show! We are so proud to have been suppliers of this show.

“Given a handsome staging by Amy Yardley, lit glamorously by Sam Waddington, and with a pungent sound design courtesy of Nico Menghini (assisted by Josh Robins), the modestly dimensioned stage of the theatre is set for epic events.”

British Theatre Review **** 

The show was designed on a Yamaha CL5 using DPA 4061 & 4066 microphones. The show was in traverse so we installed a split Vocal and Band PA consisting of L’acoustics X8’s and 5XT’s with SB18m’s as subs placed near the Air Lock door to give a great impact when open and closed.