"Phantom of
the opera"
Director: Adam Pankow
Company: Sheyenne High Theatre
Role: Sound Designer, Projection Engineer
Time: January - February, 2017

This show was one of my largest projects so far! 117 inputs across 4 sound consoles with more than 300 total cues and 40 wireless mics. The technical support for Phantom is integral to its production - especially with regards to the sound design.


A true production of the 1980's, Phantom originally incorporated state-of-the-art technology for its time, including synthesizers, drum machines, and digital vocal effects. I wanted to keep that spirit alive in this design, utilizing modern technologies including 16 channel surround sound, live effects, TCP/IP show control, iPad backing track mix and control through Lemur, and more. Every effect and element was mixed and triggered live each night by student operators under my supervision (and backup iPad mix.) 

In particular, the Phantom's vocal effects were all live and panned across the space's surround speakers to create an ominous, omnipresent character in stark contrast to the "normal" vocals only present in the front clusters. A combination plate reverb and chorus effect, the mix was carefully chosen to ensure maximum intelligibility while still sounding stylized.


Variations of this effect were used throughout the show - during "Angel of Music", the vocal effect was cross-faded out and his "dry" voice panned towards forward stage left as our Phantom walked through the mirror to meet Christine in person.


Before Don Juan in Act II, the Phantom's voice bounces around the space until landing in Box 5 - something we accomplished through multiple time-zero Qlab fade cues to shift the mic feed between the surround clusters. Immediately after this the Phantom is heard through all the house speakers simultaneously - unnerving the characters onstage (and hopefully the audience, too!) 

System One-Line
Projection Cues
Phantom Speaks - Phantom of the Opera
00:00 / 00:00
"Angel of Music" Fade - Phantom of the Opera
00:00 / 00:00
Phantom in Surround - Phantom of the Opera
00:00 / 00:00

* - Unfortunately these sample tracks have been mixed down to 2-track stereo, so the surround effects are not as apparent.

Photo: Preshow Projection,

Phantom of the Opera 

Sheyenne Theatre, 2017

Preshow Projection
Preshow Projection
Preshow Projection
Prehouse Timer
Each night timers counting down to mic check and house open projected onto the wall
FOH Mix Position
Pictured: Behringer X32 Compact summing console, A&H GLD112 Vocal console, A&H GLD112 Pit console, and main Qlab Macbook Pro
Console Custom Keys
Main vocal console had assignable keys for switching to backup mics, overriding the Phantom vocal effects, and scene recall controls
Equipment Towers
Booth equipment towers racked most of the wireless, digital stage boxes, and permanent venue line runs.
Wireless Cabinet
40 wireless packs were stored in a rolling cabinet with removable drawers for ease of access and portability
Normal Wireless Drawer
Each drawer contained the actors mic pack, a Countryman e6 earset (various sensitivities depending on how loud the actor was), a pouch, and an makeup removal pad each performance.
Backup Drawer
Several leads wore redundant backup beltpacks with a Sennheiser ME-2 lavalier capsule.
Rechargeable Batteries
This was our first productions running entirely on rechargeable AA batteries(!) After trialing a set of OEM Panasonic NiMH (orange) cells, we decided to go with Eneloop Pro cells for their extended mAh rating. NiMH cells worked great with our Sennheiser EW100's, however the Audio-Technica 3000 series packs did not like them.
Main Speakers
Wide angle of the auditorium shows the LCR main venue speakers. Comprised of two EAW QX326 side fills and two QX396's for the center cluster.
Rear Speaker
Rear house speakers were JBL PRX635 3-way 15" powered cabs.
Side Speaker
Side surround speakers were QSC K10 2-way 10" powered cabs. 4 more of these also served as overhead stage monitors.
Rear House Sub
JBL PRX718s single 18" powered sub cabs helped augment low frequency effects.
Conductor Control Stand
The pit conductor had a wedge monitor with vocals, in-ear monitors with backing tracks, a comm pack, and an iPad (not shown) with her during the show to control backing tracks through Lemur.
Lemur Control Page
The conductor's iPad showed this during the show, with go controls for the three backing tracks of the show, as well as mix control for the track and click levels going to to her in ear monitors. These buttons sent OSC commands to the main Qlab computer to play the multitrack sound cues. A second tab contained more control buttons including global cue panic, play, and pause buttons.
Conductor Video Monitor
A two-way video monitor system was deployed so that the conductor could see the stage and the actors could see the conductor at all times to help keep temp during the show's many difficult songs.
Large diaphragm condenser mics were shared between each 2 violin, viola, cello, and bass players.
A view of the woodwind, brass, and percussion sections. Each instrument was individually mic'ed (except for percussion, which had 4 overhead mics.)
Lower Pit Effect Speakers
The normal orchestra pit was used for trapdoor spaces with a slatted ceiling, allowing effect speakers to be heard from the house. Pictured: QSC K10
Projection was done with 3 Epson Powerlite 97 projectors mapped to the rear set wall, which was on an electric winch.
Media Server
A Mac Pro located above stage powered the 3 projectors. Cues controlled by the Pit Sound Console back in the booth.
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© 2021 Christian Ekren Design

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