Tuesday, June 7, 2011


So I worked four performances and a strike in one day. The next day I crawled out blinking and stupid to attend the first sing-through for the next show I'm contracted on.

A cast and crew of some sixty people. A complex show, complex book. Some really good singers. I find myself just marveling at the ability of these people to sing a score cold, with nothing but the sheet music, their fellow actors, and a piano. And to make it sound that good!

This was also the designer's presentation; costumes was there with their sketches, sets was there with a lovely model. Director has deep thoughts, a giant collection of reference books.

And me? What gives me the idea that I can support these musicians, these singers, the entire design team? That I have the skills and wit to wire up the sound system, sort out the microphones, create the sound effects, and sit there during performance with my fingers on the controls that can in a split second turn the sound from "great" to "suck?"

Every show gives me this humble feeling. Every show, too, starts as a seemingly impossible mountain: what is it shaped like, how is it to be built, what are the parts and tasks?

But like every show, you take out the spoon to move that mountain one pebble at a time. Make the meetings. Make lists and charts. I've been listening to the original Broadway cast recording, I've made the first pass through the script to indicate possible sound effects and vocal processing. I'm scheduling meetings. Through these small steps eventually it all starts to make sense.

But, still, the feeling of riding a tiger never leaves. Each night, as I face that sound board and the overture starts, I worry that I won't be up for it this time; that I'll forget where I am (which I have!) or my fingers will slip (which they have!) or something will break (which they do!) So far, it has yet to totally spoil the show. But even the lesser evil -- the fear that I will give that audience and those talented performers less than the best that is possible and less than they deserve -- yes, that is always there.

No, I don't sleep well on performance nights. Sometimes it is dawn before I can unwind enough to sleep.

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