Chris Whybrow, the live sound engineer responsible for the West End show “Frank, Sammy & Dean – The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas” has spent his career working on a string of award-winning theater productions and on tour with artists and bands like Kaiser Chiefs, Coldplay, and Dizzie Rascal. But with “The Rat Pack,” it’s all about combining great sound with authentic style.
“When you’re recreating some of the biggest classics ever to be recorded,” said Whybrow, “you need to be certain the gear you’re using is up to the job.”
When London’s West End celebrates these performers, it also celebrates some of the finest music ever recorded. So, it stands to reason that “The Rat Pack” show had to set the bar higher for sound quality than any other, which is why several Shure microphones, including the KSM9, KSM137, Beta 87, Beta 98, Beta 91, SM58®, and 55SH are used for vocals and the backline during the performances.
“We’re using a lot of Shure microphones on this show,” said Whybrow, “but the star is undoubtedly the KSM9 handheld condenser. We have two in black, but the six main ones we use are in champagne. They sound fantastic. With the KSM9s, I don’t need to treat the sound of their voices…it’s pretty much just flat, natural sound. You don’t really have to put any EQ on, as they’re a very natural sounding microphone.”
Chris has used KSM9s in some of his previous theater designs – including “Thriller Live,” the show that celebrates the career of Michael Jackson – so he was already familiar with what they were capable of, but he isn’t alone. The performers have been impressed with them, too.
“The performers love them, actually,” said Whybrow. “The performer playing Dean Martin especially loves them! During the show the mics come in for a bit of abuse, so it’s good that the housing on them is really strong. The capsule is also shock-mounted, making it ideal for hand-held performance, especially seeing as they get thrown off stage every performance – after ’Sammy Davis Jr.‘does ’That Old Black Magic.’ At the end of the song, he swings the mic around and lobs it off the stage and someone catches it. Well, that’s the plan – it’s been dropped a few times now, but it still works!”
So after designing the sound for “The Rat Pack,” does Chris ever have enough of hearing these tracks?
“I love all that old music – even after hearing it a lot,” he said. “These tunes…they’re classics