Raising the Roof: Hairspray brings the West End out of Quarantine!

A magical moment with sound designer Andrew Keister

The return to live performances with audiences has been a long time coming, and Hairspray is the perfect spirit-lifting production to kick things off! The Coliseum's Edwardian auditorium, regarded as one of London's most elegant, is the perfect setting to celebrate the end of quarantine, with Michael Ball reprising his Olivier Award-winning role as Edna Turnblad.

Sound designer Andrew Keister, representing original Broadway designer Steve Kennedy, flew in for the project but had to quarantine prior to arrival in the theatre. In the meantime Hairspray's UK sound team - Josh Richardson, Callum Wills, Simon France, Robbie Barclay and Larry Golland - were hard at work along with the Orbital team led by Henry Pierce, making sure everything was set up just right at the Coliseum. Andrew has high praise for the whole team saying, "It would have been amazing to be back in any theatre again after so many months of the industry being shut down but to be back in the Coliseum, in the heart of the West End, with this incredible team was almost too good to be true. The original West End production of Hairspray in 2007 was the first time I had the pleasure of working with Orbital, and I'm happy to say that 14 years later they are still defying expectations! Our first performance was a very emotional experience for all of us after so much time away from the business that we love, and the roaring ovation from the audience at the curtain call was an experience I won't soon forget"

For Orbital, Hairspray represents a magical moment, as we celebrate the gradual reopening of theatres and a return to something like normality. Andrew wanted to try some updated elements for this latest production, utilising Meyer's Leopard line array and Nemesis CCS-2 audio playback redundancy switchers. While we couldn't prep the show in the usual way, we all focused on creating a harmonious result through online collaboration and making sure that everything was spot on when the curtain went up.

After so many dark months, it truly is "on with the show!"

July 2021

"It would have been amazing to be back in any theatre again after so many months of the industry being shut down but to be back in the Coliseum, in the heart of the West End, with this incredible team was almost too good to be true"