Disney’s Aida, Netherlands

The Opportunity

Based on Giuseppe Verdi’s seminal 1871 opera Aida, Elton John and Tim Rice’s original Broadway musical garnered critical acclaim and numerous Tony awards at the turn of the millennium. On April 23, 2023, original-cast-member-turned-director Schele Williams premiered her own re-imagined version of Aida, produced by Disney Theatrical Productions at the AFAS Circustheater in Scheveningen.

To ensure world-class sound quality for Disney’s production of Aida, Williams turned to internationally renowned sound designer Tony Gayle to devise a live sound system that would deliver speech and music alike with clarity and impact.

The Solution

Gayle provided an original sound design utilizing JBL VTX Series line array speakers and subwoofers powered by Crown amplification.

Gayle’s design used a total of 40 JBL VTX A8 speakers, with a main hang of 14 boxes per side and three separate delay hangs. The A8 combines two 8-inch woofers, four 3.5-inch midrange drivers and two 2-inch high-frequency drivers in a compact enclosure to provide unmatched performance, efficiency and a consistent 110-degrees of horizontal coverage. Ten VTX B18 arrayable subwoofers deliver a low frequency response perfectly tailored to complement the full-range VTX A8 speakers, while Crown I-Tech Series amplifiers supply clean and reliable power to the entire system. Together, Gayle’s JBL VTX system ensures that theatergoers can experience Disney’s Aida with the utmost audio quality.

The Impact

“As a sound designer, I’m ultimately responsible for everything the audience hears,” said Gayle. “When I first heard the A12, it ticked all the boxes for me but I thought it was a little too big for theater, particularly in the UK. When JBL introduced the A8, I started specifying it because it’s smaller, more flexible and will fit in a lot more venues. Other speakers can sound great, but they don’t sound as great as the VTX A Series. It’s as simple as that. I can put up an A8 system and do very little work and get what I want. With other systems, I have to work harder to get what I want. It’s all about workflow. The A8 is a great sounding box that’s won me awards—there’s not much more I could ask for in a speaker.”

“Everyone seems really happy with the sound of the show,” added Gayle. “Two days after the show opened, I was nominated for Best Sound Design in the Dutch music awards based on my work on Aida. The show got seven nominations in total. People working at the theater commented that it was the best sounding show they’ve ever heard at the theater. Because it’s a Disney production, they have a high bar in terms of quality and what to expect. I knew straight away that there would be a lot of eyes on this project and I needed to do the very best job I could. I specified the JBL VTX A8 line arrays because it’s a transparent box that gives me exactly what I want. Whatever I put into it, I get out of it. It’s unforgiving and true to what I’m doing—when I make adjustments to the EQ or levels, I hear it straight away. It’s like having a sixth sense. I can imagine what the show is going to sound like on that system and be confident in the impact it’s going to have. I worked closely with my associate Simon Fox to implement the sound design. It’s a big job for one person, so I relied heavily on him and want to recognize him for his great work.”