Kenton's a hit on Broadway!
Kenton MIDI devices are finding homes all over the theatre industry in some of the biggest musicals ever to grace the stage. Top film score composer and stage musical programmer Andy Barrett reveals all.
Andy Barrett fell into his role as a composer and programmer almost by accident back in the 80s. Firstly, a friend asked him to help out on the hit musical Cats, left the show and Andy ended up as a principal player! Then the show contractor asked him to help out with some technical issues and was so impressed with Andy's solution that he hired him on the spot. He was so blown away that he hired me for all his shows: Phantom Of The Opera, Les Miserables and so on! remembers Andy.
20 years on and Andy has scores of programming duties and soundtracks under his belt including massive hits like Miss Saigon, Dream Girls, All That Jazz and Cabaret. His equipment list includes several small but vital Kenton LD2s. These level indicators are one of the most widely used devices on the stage musicals as they enable players to quickly establish volume and other levels, as Andy explains.
I'm using the LD2 to monitor pedal position for the volume pedals. The LD2 displays the data on both a ribbon-type display and a numeric display. It's great feedback for the players and helps them to be consistent with their volume settings, particularly on cold entrances.
I get lots of comments from people about the LD2s. Musicians love them because they're compact and easy to read. Programmers want to know where they can buy them because they really do the job well. Volume meters are often overlooked by programmers because they don't make any sound. But once you get in the pit you realize that they are really an essential piece of gear. I wouldn't do a job without one. It would be like omitting the sustain pedal. And Kenton really built these right. I've yet to have one break down on me.
One of the best features on the LD2 is a little recessed button on the front panel that allows the meter to learn' which data it's supposed to monitor. This is an incredibly easy and elegant solution as compared to other MIDI utility boxes where you have to send a SySex command to train the unit. The same button also changes the range scale of the meter.
As well as the LD2 being an essential item in his set-up Andy also knows that, should he ever need it, Kenton will be right there to help with any technical issues.
John Price and the guys at Kenton are always right there when to comes to support. Also some of the producers I work for have reservations about ordering products from overseas. Kenton know their shipping and always manage to get the LD-2's to me within a few days. They're also happy to help out with advice about dealing with overseas purchases and their tech support is right on the money.
After a string of hit musicals, Andy's future is looking just as busy.
I've just had a long, non-stop run programming Sister Act (Alan Menken's new show) in Pasadena and Atlanta, setting up an LA company for Wicked and, starting next week, setting up a new company for Tarzan in The Hague. So I'm looking forward to taking a break in April. After that, I'm in discussions to program The Little Mermaid for Disney in June.
And you can bet that whatever shows he takes on his Kenton gear will never be too far from his side.
I always have my eye on Kenton's website because their products are so innovative. This is just hands down the best product in its class. It sounds like I'm mercilessly plugging but I really mean it!