Tech Week is now wrapped and the
show is on its feet tonight. The show is, I'm happy to report, in good
shape. As producer I am also happy to report that it looks like we will
come in under budget -- always a good thing.
It went from "highly probable" that I would be sound tech for
this show, to affirmative. I am running the sound board, or, I guess, in
our case at The Guild, "the sound keyboard," since we run sound
from a computer program -- as do most theatres, anymore, now that I
think about it.
If I remember correctly, the last time I ran sound for a show was
A Tuna Christmas, two years ago.
If you have watched the promocast DV movie you will note that there is no
dialogue from the script heard in the movie. I did not receive a signed
copy of the clearance agreement from David Lindsay-Abaire's agent in time
to edit the movie to include the dialogue. The only time I could do the
editing was last Tuesday. Nothing had arrived yet so I had to go with the
voice-over option. Anticipating that
this might be the case, I had recorded Director Debra Kent after the tech
rehearsal on Sunday. I was half expecting the irony of coming in on Wednesday,
after the promocast was in final cut
and posted to
The Guild You Tube channel,
to find that the signed agreement had finally arrived. But, no.
Heather Martin, Rachel Wilson, & Wendi Michael
during tech/dress rehearsal Tuesday evening.
Shyra Thomas, Rachel, & Shawn Hooks, also
Alexander Chilton, Wendi, Rachel, & Heather
rehearse from Act II on
Running sound off my laptop during a rehearsal
last Saturday morning; not a full tech rehearsal
but we did run the priest voice-overs (ala:
to start working on cue timing.
I wanted city street ambient sound for a scene in
the show that takes place in an alley. But I didn't
want "heavy traffic." I had nothing in
my library that worked. So, I opened a front
window in the theatre's boardroom and recorded the
traffic on Wayne Avenue. The sound file fits
perfectly in the scene.
Now I can start focusing full on the sound work for the Romero show;
although, "sound design" is really not an accurate label for my
work on this show. I'm really going to be more of a traffic director for
the sound, as there is licensed music and sound provided for the show.
This coming Tuesday is a stumble-through rehearsal for the designers and
technicians. By then I'll have listened to the mentioned provided sound
files and will have looked over the script to determine where they are
executed. Of course I'd rather be actually designing, but
The first weekend has wrapped. The audiences weren't the biggest but were
of "respectable" size. Regardless, the cast gave fine
performances and those in attendance have loved the production. As is
always the case with live theatre, there were glitches, most especially
(that pesky production gremlin):
uncooperative props and set pieces and such. The two of most note were a
wine cork that decided to not come out of the bottle during a scene, and
a wheel caster on a set wall that decided to break and make the
stagecrew's job of flipping the wall for the next scene most difficult.
Still, a good opening weekend, despite the glitches.
As I wrote the other day, for the first time since
A Tuna Christmas,
in Nov/Dec, 2012, I'm running the sound, myself. I'd rather not, but, one
must do what one must do. I wouldn't go as far as say I had any miscues
over the weekend, but the timing was a bit hinky a couple times, at least
not "spot on."
For sound, the pesky production gremlin
pulled his shenanigans at the start of Tech Week,
on Tech Sunday, as a matter of
fact. The play has two scenes that take place at a bingo game. There is a
priest calling the numbers; it's pre-recorded with each of the calls played
is the voice of the priest. I once again upheld my occasional tradition of
spending the night at the theatre the Saturday eve of Tech Sunday. That
Saturday was the day I had set aside to accomplish the bulk of the sound
design for the show. I had already recorded the actors for the needed
voice-overs: Saul, as well as
Natasha Randall and
Late Saturday evening into early, early morning Sunday, I was putting the
final touches on editing and processing the priest cues -- there are
seventy separate sound files of the preist calling bingo, spread over the
two bingo scenes.
What did I discover when I ran through all the cues in
Show Cue Systems on Sunday
morning, right before we were to start our dry tech?
Only that just under the last half of the priest sound files were silent.
There were files but they seemed to have no audio information in them. I
could get each sound cue to play, meaning: with sound, from
Final Cut Express,
but I could not save viable files from FCE. My work-around was to use
another program I have,
Record Studio Pro,
to capture the audio as I played each cue from FCE. It put us back some in
our planned schedule for the day; but, there was also some light focusing
and other lighting tweaks that Lighting Designer Jason Vogel was doing,
as well, so, some of my emergency recoup was during the same time as
Jason's finishing touches. Without going into detail, I later discovered
that my problem saving to files in FCE seems to be restricted to only
one particular parameter, or configuration, albeit one that I have in the
past been able to successfully save while in such. But the important thing
is that the solution was readily available on Tech Sunday morning and we
were able to do the Dry Tech, then later the
cue-to-cue with the cast, then a
full run of the show -- as well, as getting though the rest of Tech Week
without this particular gremlin tease going on.
Last night I watched the stumble-through
for the designers and techs. I shot the rehearsal on DV so I could have a
video reference when plotting the sound design. If you remember (or read it)
I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that we have been provided a series of
sound files attached to the script that we are to utilize, most especially
the recorded musical accompaniment to the closing song --
yeah, you read that right, there is a closing
song, this is a campy send-up, you know.
So, I have all these provided sound files, mostly flourishes and moments
bumps, but it's a little cryptic as to where most of them are to be cued
off the script. It actually seems like theres an allowance for exactly
where to use many of them, and there seem to be slightly different versions
that can be chosen from for most spots. I decided that as I try to place
the cues, having a video reference of the play's action will be most
helpful, albeit it's a looser, rehearsal run, with many moments where
director Geoff Burkman
stops the action to explain what should be there in terms of lighting,
sound, and other technical aspects. That last one is obviously a benefit to
me in context of my purpose for the video, as the video is serves the same
purpose as the stumble-through it represents.
I just pre-ordered the forthcoming collection,
The Art of McCartney.
Of all the intriguing matches of song with artist on the list, what I am
most excited about is B.B. King doing "On The Way," a deep track
off McCartney II
that is an under-known gem. The album will be out in about a month. The
B.B. King track is enough, but the list as a whole generates more
excitement and anticipation in me.
The Art of McCartney Track Listing:
1. Maybe I'm Amazed - Billy Joel
2. Things We Said Today - Bob Dylan
3. Band On The Run - Heart
4. Junior's Farm - Steve Miller
5. The Long and Winding Road - Yusuf *(Cat Stevens)
6. My Love - Harry Connick, Jr.
7. Wanderlust - Brian Wilson
8. Bluebird - Corinne Bailey Rae
9. Yesterday - Willie Nelson
10. Junk - Jeff Lynne
11. When I'm 64 - Barry Gibb
12. Every Night - Jamie Cullum
13. Venus and Mars/Rock Show - Kiss
14. Let Me Roll It - Paul Rodgers
15. Helter Skelter - Roger Daltrey
16. Helen Wheels - Def Leppard
17. Hello Goodbye - The Cure featuring James McCartney (click for the official video)
18. Live And Let Die - Billy Joel
19. Let It Be - Chrissie Hynde
20. Jet - Robin Zander & Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick
21. Hi Hi Hi - Joe Elliott
22. Letting Go - Heart
23. Hey Jude - Steve Miller
24. Listen To What The Man Said - Owl City
25. Got To Get You Into My Life - Perry Farrell
26. Drive My Car - Dion
27. Lady Madonna - Allen Toussaint
28. Let 'Em In - Dr. John
29. So Bad - Smokey Robinson
30. No More Lonely Nights - The Airborne Toxic Event
31. Eleanor Rigby - Alice Cooper (click for the official video)
32. Come And Get It - Toots Hibbert with Sly & Robbie
33. On The Way - B. B. King
34. Birthday - Sammy Hagar
Vinyl and Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
1. C Moon - Robert Smith
2. Can't Buy Me Love - Booker T. Jones
3. P.S. I Love You - Ronnie Spector
4. All My Loving - Darlene Love
5. For No One - Ian McCulloch
6. Put It There - Peter, Bjorn & John
7. Run Devil Run - Wanda Jackson
8. Smile Away - Alice Cooper
the production gremlin
was in semi-hyper shenanigan mode last night, everywhere from the phone
line for the credit card machine at the box office to the actors' memory
of lines in a scene.
Then there was, naturally, a
problem with sound. I have a speaker back stage for a TV that is blaring in
another room in a scene. Last night I was not able to get the speaker to
sound. Fortunately I discover this during the pre-show test. I reassigned
the TV sound to the up stage house
speakers, which was a decent enough workaround but not as good an effect
as the sound coming from behind the up stage door on the set. My trouble
shooting after show, which is not quite complete, eliminated the
speaker itself as the problem; nor is it the sound wires running from the
booth to back stage. That is a good thing, a very good thing,
because the wires run across the top of the theatre, so fixing that would,
well, it would suck!
I haven't completely isolated the problem but it's one of three things:
there's a problem with the a sound driver in the computer, the sound box
out of the computer and into the amp, or the mixing board has finally gone
bad -- it was old when I came on board at The Guild in 2004. I'm betting
it's the last one. But, I'll have to go in early today to finish my
The actors had a problem doing one of the bingo scenes, one of those
peppered with the bingo-calling priest
Someone went up during the scene
and threw the rest of the cast. All of a sudden I was not getting the verbal
cues to play the sound files. The cast got caught in a cycle and, in an
effort to save themselves, started doing relative improvisations. During
the first minute or so of this cycling I played some of the sound files in
sequence, despite not getting the correct line cues, just to help keep the
scene going. Then I decided I needed to jump in the
Show Cue Systems queue to the
priest bingo sound file that follow an important moment in the scene that I
was sure that the cast would work their way to. The instant I clicked on
the file to make it the next active sound cue, one of the actors jumped to
that moment in the script. I have no idea if the audience could tell there
was a problem or not. But, the important thing was the seen was saved
without a meltdown.
Yesterday was a weird day for
the gremlin tease stuff.
I was somewhat involved in the trouble-shooting of a credit card network
problem that presented itself Friday. I was to call a number where I would
be walked through the steps to update the software for the credit card
phone line machine. However, after the pre-recorded message was done and
had given me three menu choices, the call was cut off. Happen several
times, so I was not able to be a part of the solution.
then made a separate call to another number and went through some steps to
reboot the hardware; that worked.
Now, as for the sound problem with the back stage speaker. I did go in a
little early yesterday to finish isolating where the problem was. I
think the problem was what I'd suspected: the mixing board. Thing
is, when it was all said and done, the original configuration was working
again. I do not know why.
Having already discounted problems with the back stage speaker and the
sound wire running from the booth to back stage Friday, I brought in one
of my small amped speakers from home to hook into both the mix box that
come out of the computer, and to run the mixing board directly into. As it
turned out, both successfully received a signal and output it.
So, at this point, if the problem was with the mixing board, which was my
earlier guess, it was no longer. I reconnected the original configuration
and it returned to working. I'm not sure why, but I still think the mixing
board is going bad and needs replaced.
Apparently, on Sunday,
the production gremlin
was off making mischief for another production at another theatre, or it
was napping somewhere in a corner or a hole in the building, because the
final performance of the middle weekend had no glitches of any
significance, technical or otherwise.
There were better houses, too, which is generally the case for the
second weekend of our shows. Again, like the first weekend, there were
good response from the audience.
Though significant portions of the sound for the show has been provided,
that material is all musical bumps and flourishes. Other SFX (sound
effects), clearly needed, are not part of the package. I have started the
process of gathering those SFX sound files, most which are already in my
library. There are a few things I need to record from the cast: a scream
and some zombie moans.
I also need sit down with my crude DV recording of last week's
stumble-through to determine
which of the provided bumps and flourishes work best, where.
Recently, I officially signed on to design sound for this one.
Since I didn't actually "sign"
anything, would it be that I "spoke" on, or would the more
grammatically appropriate, yet somewhat mundane, "agreed" be the
diction to employ? I also have started a search to find the
person, people, or entity that controls the rights to
works, so I may seek clearance to use dialogue from the play in the
DV promocast. I've emailed a performance rights agent at
Dramatists Play Service. They
don't handle DV clearances but will know of whom I do need to contact.
Have some ideas that will be some pretty good gags.
Did I mention that this is not a serious drama?
The performance rights agent at
Dramatists Play Service provided
me with the contact information for the Wendy Wasserstein copyright
Tuesday I sent my clearance request "To whom it may concern" at
The Gersh Agency. Now I await
the "Yay" or "Nay." It has been a few days; if I don't
receive response soon, I will contact Gersh again.
Meet my new obsession, the band
Puddles Pity Party, featuring
Michael "Big Mike"
Geier as Puddles, "the sad clown with the golden voice." I
was exposed to the video below, yesterday. At first I wasn't sure what to
think, but I can tell you that when I was finished watching it all I could
think was: "Mother-fuckin' WOW!"
The Puddles schtick may be from Bizzaro world, but you can't argue with
the fact that Geier has a great voice, and this may be one of the best
Leonard Cohen's modern
anthem that I have ever heard.
Puddles has several "singles" at
iTunes; I bought them. I await
a full album by Puddles, or Michael, and if I have the opportunity to
catch either live, I will seize upon it.
Let's start with that damnable
production gremlin! Yes, indeed, the little bastard was back
Sunday, October 19, to help us close the run, and he was back in spades!
First up was what threatened to be a very big problem with sound during the
performance. In between Scene 1 & 2, in Act I,
the sound cut out. Right in the midst of the black-out as the crew was
changing the set for Scene 2 the music suddenly stopped. The decibel meter
bars were still jumping in
Show Cue Systems, but there
was no sound emanating from the house speakers. This was not the previous
problem from the antiquated sound board, either. The problem was with the
software, a driver file, or the out-board eight-channel sound card. I
believe it was the sound card.
There were several points in the show when I had long spaces between sound
cues; in one case an entire scene that lasted somewhere round fifteen
minutes; another, very long scene -- more than half of Act
II -- with that much time in between the three
sound cues in the scene. Act I, Scene 2, of
course, is not one of these situations, That being the scene we went into
after the sound inexplicably stopped on us.
No, Act I, Scene 2 had four sound cues in rather
close proximity to each other, the first up about two minutes into the
the scene, the next at approximately two minute intervals, as well. The
fourth was a few minutes later. These were the TV blaring in another
room sound cues that I had problems with earlier in the run, in that
case because of the sound mixer. As last time, the first three cues did
not happen on stage for the actors., and, as last time, the actors managed
to smoothly cover the loss of the cues.
Meanwhile, up in the booth, I was rebooting Show Cue Systems, that action
which made it impossible to give them the three cues. I was up and running
by that fourth one, so, as last time, at least the scene got one
Scene 3 had no internal sound cues, only bookend scene transition music,
into and out of, and it was that fifteen-minute scene I mentioned above. I
took advantage of the time to completely reboot the computer system. After
that reboot there were no more
shenanigans, however, I had also unplugged the external sound card and
then plugged it back in back, actually when first addressing the problem
in Scene 2, so I am not sure which action was the solution. And I can tell
you with no hesitation that I breathed many a shallow, sharp breath until
the last cue of the show was successfully executed!
Gremlin BS aside, this
was a most successful production with fine, sometimes downright excellent
work from the stage and a well-received showcase of creative work,
GREMLIN WASN'T DONE YET:
One of the now several video production things I do for The Guild is shoot
the archival video of our productions. I shoot them from the tech booth
during one of the actual performances before an audience. My standard
practice, which has a history of problems -- mostly
Radio Frequency Interference (RFI),
is to record the audio separately with mics out in the theatre space in
order to get slightly better audio for the final cut.
Earlier this year I bought and began using the
Tascam DP-03 8-track digital portastudio recorder
for this task. What I had done previously was run the mics into a small
4-channel mixer then into
on my laptop, via iMic.
That, you five who actually, occasionally read this blog may recall, was
during the time when I was having the annoying RFI problem. The Tascam
resolved that issue.
The Closing Sunday for Good People I shot the archival video, with
the Tascam in tandem. As always, it picked up the audio like a charm with
no Spanish radio station in the background -- ie.: the past recurring RFI
problem. The gremlin shenanigans
happened later, at home, when I was migrating all the information, video
and audio, onto my computer. There are two ways to migrate audio off the
Tascam into a computer. One is to use the export command which will save a
WAVE audio file to the
SD card. That can then be copied to the hard
drive of the computer via a USB
connection. The other way is to connect the machine to the computer and
use audio recording software on the computer (such as Garageband to
re-record the audio on the computer while playing it from the Tascam in
real time. I usually opt for the re-recording choice, though I have
exported the WAV files a few times.
That Sunday evening I opted to export. In the midst of the Tascam creating
the WAV file on the SD card, something bad happened. the Tascam displayed
a message that said the SD card was not properly formatted, which could
not be correct, since I had recorded a lot using that card. The only option
I had was to reformat the card; that, of course, erased all the audio I
had recorded for the archival final cut.
I checked the card in another device to verify that it was the card where
the problem resided rather than the Tascam. Fortunately that was the case.
Still, no better audio for the archival DV movie of the Good People
performance. Plus I had to buy a new 32 gig SD card.
"A HELICOPTER AND A FEW THUNDER CLAPS":
All right Burkman. I know you read this silly-ass thing on occasion,
so I write this AT you as much as somewhat ABOUT you.
"Hey, K.L.," Geoff Burkman
says, several months back, maybe as far back as last Spring, I don't
remember; (much has transpired in the last several months). "Are you
interested in doing the sound design for Night of the Living Dead*?"
(I.E. George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead™ Live, of
which GB is the director). "It shouldn't be too complicated" he
said, "a helicopter at the top of the show, then a few thunder
Let me repeat that: "It shouldn't be too complicated. A helicopter at the
top of the show, then a few thunder claps."
To be fair, when I was approached about this project, the landscape of the
planned production had some significant topographical differences that it's
more than a little unfortunate had to be abandoned. At that time, the
performance was going to be scored with live original music. It was later
discovered that, due to licensing issues, there was provided music that
needs to be used. This turn stepped up my involvement some, as all the
pre-recored scores and dramatic stings, etc., had to be programmed into a
cue system. That took it a bit beyond "A helicopter and a few thunder
claps," but still not too hairy.
The SFX for the show, on the other hand,
was always going to be a bit more than just "A helicopter and a few
thunder claps." The director was, well, let's say, inaccurate,
in his estimation of the SFX that would be involved. There are more than
one-hundred-thirty manual sound cues that the sound tech fires between
the opening of the house and the end of the curtain call. Add to that a
total of at least seventy-five cues that, usually in clumps of
three to five, auto start off of particular cues; the total is probably
closer to ninety to one-hundred of those auto start cues, truthfully. This
was not a show that was going to demand little of me.
"It shouldn't be too complicated. A helicopter at the
top of the show, then a few thunder claps.".... HAH!
All superficial whining aside, the production has turned out pretty damned
well. I am happy about the sound work, both our incorporation of the
provided musical stings and such and my further contributions to the
project's sound plot.
Opening Night and Saturday night'sThe show opened this weekend and I attended both Opening Night and Saturday
night's sophomore performance. I am happy with the sound balances, and,
Jessica Opper, who has ran several of my sound designs at
The Guild, was on top of
things, as usual. The cast is doing a fine job with this spoof; really a
lot of funny, funny moments.
You locals should check it out. It runs for three more performances, next
Of course, technically, both this past Friday and Saturday night I was
"in the audience" for George A. Romero's Night of the Living
Dead™ Live at DPH. Since I was attending to the performance, I
guess these do count. I was also, as designer, scrutinizing the
sound balances, but that did not stop me from actually being an audience
member. So, as I wrote above: nice work from the cast with many, many well
executed comedic moments.
Friday, October 24, I was privileged to see the opening of the short run
staged concert presentation as produced jointly by the
Miami Valley Symphony Orchestra, performed
at the Dayton
Masonic Center. It was an assemblage
of good to excellent vocalists, and the symphony was wonderful. Hats off
to DPH & MVSO for this lovely presentation!
Sunday afternoon I went to Cincinnati to see the incomparable
Bruce Cromer take on
in his final performance of the one-actor show at
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati.
To no surprise whatsoever, Bruce was absolutely amazing. I have seen Bruce
carry a full play by himself before, with great, impressive success:
I Am My Own Wife
at the Human Race Theatre Company,
and, the play that introduced me to his enormous talent, and that being
when I met him as I was the sound tech for the special production of such,
Underneath The Lintel
at The Dayton Theatre Guild. In An Illiad, Bruce was on stage for a
straight one hour and forty minutes, pulling no stops, journeying the
spectrum of emotional and intellectual dynamics, holding our attention
from the first to the last moment. I told him after the show that if I
could garner one-fourth of his stage presence I'd be a happy actor.
If my wallet (& time) allows it, I'll shortly see a few
As always, it seems, there have been several recent local productions I
wanted to see, but for various reasons, financial or otherwise, I did not
get to. Purely because I didn't pay close enough attention to the
production dates, I missed Three by Tennessee at
Springfield StageWorks. So
far I've missed all the productions from
Dare to Defy Productions. I missed
at Yellow Springs Center Stage.
I don't think I've failed to mention anything, but I probably have.
As Greg recently wrote, "This is a big fest for this film and I'm
really happy that we were selected to be a part of it. Some big horror and
sci-fi films from
South by Southwest
will be making Australian debuts at this fest, so it's good company to be
in and will mean a lot of exposure for the short." Greg also pointed
out that it is the first International fest he's had work in, "and,"
he says, "it takes place in the land of Mad Max!"
Also attached to the film are
Matt Hayden (sound
editor), Jacklyn Alexa
(makeup artist/special makeup effects artist), and Carol Narigon.
And now I move on to yet another sound design gig, of the none-paying
sort, of course. I haven't read the script, yet, that happens this
evening, but I am betting this will have less complexity than the last
design I did.
Meanwhile, the sound track will be available November 11 at iTunes,
*Just a reminder this can only be a small sampling of the
professional work of my friends and colleagues. I'm simply not
going to be aware of all their good fortunes. Plus, I may screw up
and learn of something and forget about it -- I can be that
way, easily. But if I know (and remember), I'll give a shout
out for the pro gig successes!
"Political polls don't measure reality. That's not their
purpose. Polls, especially the ones pushed relentlessly by agenda
driven organizations aren't designed to reflect reality, instead
they exist to shape reality by doing exactly what they are doing
-- i.e., creating a self-fulfilling prophecy through manipulation
of your perception. The bottom line here is this: if you think
you're defeated, if those polls make you think you're defeated,
you are. If those polls and your sense of defeat coupled to voter
intimidation and deliberate attempts at disenfranchisement keep
you home [today], then they've done exactly what they were
designed to do...." -- Jim Wright
for the full Jim Wright commentary from which this quote was
And further, from my own keyboard:
Ignore the polls. Ignore the foolish Talking Head Pundits who
steal their paychecks with their blah-blah BS. Don't Not Vote
because it's supposedly clear that your candidate or your issue
isn't going to win. If that's your attitude then I challenge you
to take a look at your citizenship and your sense of civic duty.
As for me, my guy/gal may loose, my issue may be defeated, but
I'll be damned if I'm not going to vote my conscious. If the other
side wants to win, they need to match and best my vote in the
AND THE NEXT SOUND DESIGN STINT BEGINS:
Last night, after the last of my political research, so as to be an
informed voter this morning, I looked though Act I
to identify both script dictated sounds and music and other potential such.
At lunch I will look over Act II.
Looks to me like sometime soon I will be scheduling a recording session
with various cast members, as I have already identified almost a dozen
voice overs that the script specifically calls for.
Tonight I drop by rehearsals to begin discussions with Director
Marcia C. Nowik about the sound plot we envision.
Last night I spoke with Director Marcia C. Nowik about the sound design
and we have a good start on a plan of action. One hope is to record as
many of the answering-machine and other voice-overs as possible, this
coming Saturday. There are likely to be other recording sessions needed,
but the more important goal is to get them all recorded sooner rather than
later, be it Saturday or another day.
There's some coordination to be done in terms of practical sound
and recorded sound: voice-overs
for the answering machine, coming from a speaker in such machine or through
another speaker not attached; there may be one practical doorbell and one
from a sound file over a house speaker; an actor will use a live mic on
stage going into a hot, amped speaker; the telephones will likely all be
This one isn't going to be lighter design work, even if not the most
complex I've done to date.
The clearance, for use in the promocast of dialogue from the script, is all
but secured. Several weeks ago
Dramatists Play Service provided
me with the contact information for the Wendy Wasserstein copyright
administrator, The Gersh Agency.
Through a series of emails and calls to Gersh I finally discussed the
clearance with a member of their legal department and should be receiving
a letter of consent sometime soon. The only thing up in the air is whether
we will be obligated to take down the promocast after the show closes. We
have had to meet such requirement before as a term of the limited license.
Not what I'd prefer, but not an unreasonable term of agreement, either.
4000 COPYRIGHT STUFF:
I decided to get an early jump on securing clearance for dialogue use in
the promocast for the January production of 4000 Miles, but, I have
not been able to find contact information for Playwright Amy Herzog. Then
I discovered she has the same agent at
William Morris Endeavor as
does David Lindsay-Abaire. I have drafted a clearance agreement as I did
for Lindsay-Abaire's Good People, and have mailed it with a cover
letter to that same agent as before.
For the record, I did finally get the signed agreement for Good
People, unfortunately it was too late for me utilize the consent; the
promocast had already made final cut. So, I sent this new agreement out
yesterday in hopes to allow enough time. Of course, the agent may have to
consult Ms. Herzog, and there is the holidays to consider as well. I don't
start shooting this promocast until the second week of January, so there
likely may be enough time to get the hoped-for affirmative response in
time to be of value.
DTG SOUND TOY STUFF:
The Guild's new Behringer XENYX QX2442USB mixing board
probably not the most accurate term; "Tool" is probably better.
Now let's return to
the gremlin tease paradigm,
one that has been a situation since way before Good People. In light
of the clear death rattle our
Guild sound mixing board
has been making, in some sense, for most of the time I've been involved
with the theatre, and especially in light of the
escapades during Good People, I've been on the hunt for a new mixer,
and recently proposed at a board meeting that we get a new one. I'd
already looked at some on-line as well as dropping in to
Sound Force, just a mile up
the road from the theatre, and got a reasonable estimate on a used mixer.
What I knew we needed was a mixer that could put out each of eight channels
from the external sound card for our computer, individually. That way
channel 1 will send sound to a specific speaker, channel 2 to another,
etc., etc. After the first look at the particular used mixer, I was not
convinced it would do exactly what we need satisfactorily, and I told the
Guild board that. The Guild board approved a new mixer, up to a certain
dollar amount, even if it was not that particular used mixer I eventually
It wasn't that particular mixer that I procured, either. It turns
out it didn't meet the need. A few days later I ordered a
Behringer XENYX QX2442USB
from Sound Force. It CAN send each channel to a specific speaker.
Because of Tech Week for George A. Romero's Night of the Living
Dead™ Live, all I could do was drop the board off at the theatre,
after it came into the store.
The placement of the four house speakers, with channels
1-4 running from the mixer, through the main amps, into
the designated speakers.
Well, to be honest, I dropped it off Tuesday, October 28, and probably
could have took it out of the box and at least hooked it up, but I may have
missed the tech rehearsal for ...Night...Live had I done that; yeah,
I'm sure I would have.
After I got back from seeing
Mr. Cromer in an
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati
last Sunday, I went to The Guild and hooked the mixer up, coordinating
channels to speakers, and then doing some test runs. Channels 1 through 4
run from the external sound card, into the mixer, out through the two
amps and on to the four house speakers. Channel 5 through 8 each go into
the mixer than will go out to amped speakers each set up specifically for
a particular production. For instance channel 5 might run to an amped
speaker behind the set to be the sounds of the city. 6 might run to another
speaker, perhaps inside an answering machine on stage. Essentially, channel
5 and higher are best considered "auxiliary," in terms of sound
design, or perhaps better considered "remote."
Actually, to run 7 & 8, the card must be set in surround mode. I did a
test in that mode and I was not able to get much signal out of channel 7.
That needs further investigation. Right now I have the card set in
six-channel mode, and only the channels 1-4, the four house speakers,
running from the mixer to the amps, hooked active. Looking at Isn't It
Romantic, I may need to employ both channel 5 and 6.
At this point there seems no need to have more than six channels utilized,
but it is good to have the expandability. Now if I can discover the root
of the problem with channel 7 and solve that.
For any of you five who have enough of a geek in you to be
interested, here's a chart of the sound designations for the new
Channel Number in Mixer
Sound Card Designation:
Theatre Stage Designation
Front of House, Left
Front of House, Right
Stage Presidium*, Left
Stage Presidium*, Right
Channel 5 *not routed through main amps
Channel 6 *not routed through main amps
*Note that, as shown above, the Stage Presidium is at the back of
the thrust stage area, often the farthest Up Stage border of the
actors' playing space, with the space behind being "Back
Stage" in those cases.
More pics of the new Behringer board, including the inputs and
outputs for the channels that allows individual fade control for
each between the board and the speakers
Further, there are more answering machine messages by principal
characters, and I got some of those, too. One I didn't even realize I was
going to be able to get on Saturday. All in all, I got 70% of the VOs
The plan is to grab the rest tomorrow night. I do have a ticket for
HRTC that night, but it's
an 8:00 curtain, the Romantic rehearsal starts at 7:00, and I will
wrap by then, regardless of whether I have all the remaining 30% or not.
And The Race is a two-minute drive from The Guild. So, I'm golden.
Director Marcia C. Nowik and I have discussed some musical direction ideas
for the show and I have gone about realizing that. I'll be dropping in to
the Guild today to rig two practical
phones on set, as well as what may or may not be a practical answering
machine. If I can get enough juice to a speaker in one of our prop answering
machines than the answering machine VOs will come from that. If I can't,
I'll rig an amped speaker right under the dead prop with the VOs mixed to
sound like they come from an answering machine speaker.
Many of the elements for the practical phone
The voice-over microphones
Obligatory photo of the recording machine set-up
AND OTHER NEWS:
So, Saturday night, I walked out for intermission during Sweeney
Todd, see below, and walked into one of the minuscule zones where I
can get, at most, weak service for my cell phone while at that theatre. I
got a text, quite delayed, from the ...Night... stage manager,
Melanie Davis, that said, "We got it fixed." Uh oh, I
thought. ...Night..., which had an 8:00 curtain, was at this point,
supposedly into Act II, and me, the sound designer,
getting a text saying, "We got it fixed," clearly indicated there
was some sort of sound problem. I texted back, "What?" then about
two seconds later I got an alert that I had a voice mail, one that Melanie
had left well over an hour earlier:
K.L., it's Melanie. Please call as soon as you can. We have a
problem with the sound. We're getting no sound whatsoever, so
call me back as soon as you can.
I tried to call, but I lost signal immediately. At least there was the
"We got it fixed" message, which was the first thing I had
received. I could at least enjoy Act II of
Sweeney. My signal stayed too weak for a call but I was able to send
to and receive from some texts with Melanie: they'd rebooted the computer
and that had solved the problem. I later found out that sound cues were
missed for about fifteen minutes at the top of the show that evening.
Next day I was at the closing performance, and am happy to report that no
sound malfunctions occurred. I'm also happy to report that the run was a
great success. There were, in the half of the shows I saw, as well as
though I didn't, some technical blips; when a live show is this dependent
on sound and special effects, some snafus during performance is much less
Still, it was a highly successful run and the cast and crew brought it off
with great acumen and skill. The script is just damned funny and the
company brought it off more than successfully. The audiences enjoyed it
immensely. The show was a hit.
Kudos to the cast: Marcus Simmons II (Ben), Jill Lynott (Barbara), Jared
Mola (Johnny/Vince/Tom), Adam Clevenger (Chief McClelland), Noah Shane
(Harry), Christina Lewis (Helen/Jody), and The Enzomble™ (William
Boatright, Jr., Maggie Carroll, Alex Chilton, Matthew Clifton, Tamar
Fishbein, Maxamillian Santucci, Eric Specht, and Lauren Stubbs).
Kudos to the production staff and crew: Geoff Burkman (Director), John Beck
(Producer), Kelly Engle (Assistant Director), Melanie Davis (Stage
Manager), Chris Newman (Set Designer), Patrick Hayes (Make Designer), Nick
Vanderpool (Lighting Designer) Eric Specht (Special Effects), Carolyn
Palmer (Make Up), Gary Spencer (Lighting Technician), Jessica Opper (Sound
Technician). *I'm taking this crew roster off an
old list, so there may be errors. I'll verify them soon and make any
Oh, yeah, the sound designer: "Hirche
Thrallvin," I think, is his name.
The first weekend is over. I was there for Opening Night and Night 2; I
missed Sunday's show. It was, overall, a good opening weekend, though of
course, with some meddling from that
Regardless, the Friday and Saturday audiences had fun; I suspect the
Sunday audience did, as well.
Going back, though, in our
CATCHING UP mode,
to Tech Week1, there was a good share of
tweaking on the sound design throughout the process. There was, of course,
the always-present "getting the sound levels correct."
This time there was also the need to have particular songs, for particular
scene transitions, start at an appropriate point in the song for a better
impact or feel. There was also one song that was switched out a few times.
Because of my sound work for George A. Romero's Night of the Living
Dead™ Live at DPH,
I did not get much design started until during the week before Tech. I
had recorded most of the voice-overs
on the Saturday of the weekend before Tech Sunday,
then the rest on the following Wednesday, but the processing of all that
came later in the week running up to Tech. I also had a long list of
Top-40 hits from the early 80's to gather together for pre-show and
intermission play, comparable to what I always do to complement the setting
of the script when I design sound.
Believe me, it was difficult to hone the pre-show and intermission play
lists down to something manageable and practical. My standard practice is
create play lists for both periods that are much longer than what is
needed, then program each to chose randomly, so each performance has a
different pre-show and a different intermission play list. For the
thirty-minute pre-show I create a list with about two hours of music, and
for the theoretical fifteen-minute intermission, there's usually
forty minutes to one hour of music to chose from. This time, there was a
lot of music that appealed to me and both lists threatened to be far more
robust in size than usual. I had to start getting ruthless with myself and
deny many of my whims.
By the Saturday of Tech weekend I had all the processing done and had
gathered all the sounds, save for a couple I'd missed identifying, but
those few were either in my library already or easy to acquire. So
Saturday afternoon into the evening I assembled the program for the
sound cues. Okay actually it was Saturday afternoon into early morning
Sunday; I was "finished" at around 3:00 a.m. I did my
not-infrequent ritual of spending the night at The Guild. I came prepared
with sleeping bag and accouterment since I'd already known it would likely
be a long night and that I probably would want to be back in the booth by
mid-morning Sunday at the latest. I saw no reason to add the hour of
travel time a round-trip back home then back to the theatre would cost.
Sunday was a mix-bagged for me. In the morning I was able to get the first
of the tweaking accomplished, the longevity of those tweaks tenuous and
at the mercy of the rest of Tech Week. But by noon, the SCS program was in
its then-current "finished" form and the
practical phones, plus the
hidden speaker masquerading as the answering machine speaker, were rigged
and working. There was a paper tech
with Director Marcia C. Nowik, Stage Manager Melanie Davis, and all the
designers. Then we went to dinner and came back and ran the show with the
cast, putting the tech features intio the mix. Marcia elected to not do a
cue-to-cue because our sound
technician, Jared Mola, was out of town and would not be there until the
next night. So cue-to-cue work was done both Monday and Tuesday before the
runs. I personally would have liked a dry tech
on Sunday. The paper tech was fine, but after we met and discussed the cues, etc, I
would have liked a fast hands-on for the cues, as well. I suppose it all
worked out, regardless.
To be expected, I tweaked a lot Monday through Thursday. Mostly what I
tweaked were those fore-mentioned volumes, but there were a few
starting-points in music that needed to be tweaked, as well. I also had to
generously cut down the amount of bird call sounds I had in the two park
scenes. At first there were just way too many; as Marcia put it, it sounded
like "a bird sanctuary." It was taking no time at all for the
birds to become an acute, annoying distraction. So I greatly reduced the
population and the occurrence of birds in the scenes.
As for Gremlin Bitch, it
did mess with lots of stuff, to one degree or another. Actually over the
course of the last few weeks it screwed with the lift truck, making the
focusing of the lights a frustration for designer Jason Lenhart, as he
tried working with a lift that would sometime not, well, lift. We have
had some malfunctions of moving set parts, both during Tech Week and in
performance last weekend.
Though not many, there have been some
gremliny glitches with
the sound.The worst was Wednesday of Tech Week when at one point, the
answering machine voice-overs would not sound. The VU meters in the SCS
program and on the mixing board were showing signal, but no sound was
coming from the speakers. The rehearsal came to a halt for a few minutes
as I rebooted everything but got no good result. I did notice that the other
sound cues were firing. I checked the hidden speaker and it seemed fine.
Marcia had rehearsal resume with our sound guy, Jared, reading the phone
messages. But he only had to do that once. As I checked the sound cord
lines from the stage back to the mixer, I discovered that the sound cord
had been unplugged from the mixer. The mixer had been slightly moved and
the cord was taped down coming up to the mixer, with barely any slack. I
re-taped it to create much more slack.
The more bothersome one was a particular sound cut that kept not working.
For a scene transition in Act II we're using a
specific instrumental, which is a gag based on some references made in the
script. The recording has a short prelude section before the main melody
begins. In the interest of both time and pacing I decided to cut that
prelude so the song starts right at the melody. I did so after the
Wednesday Dress. Thursday, when Jared fired the cue it started right back
at the beginning of the song, at the start of the prelude. So I again went
into the SCS program and reset the start of the cue. Opening Night it
STILL fired at the very beginning of the instrumental! Apparently I
was making the change in the program but not saving it. Nah! it was that
bastard gremlin! I fixed
the damned thing after the show Friday and when I was back Saturday, it
was as it should be, never mind that the particular sequence was otherwise
an epic fail all the way around. The set was rotated at the wrong time
which discombobulated all the sound and light cues as well as the actor's
entrance which follows.
Ahhh, Live Theatre!
A couple weeks back on the 12th I saw
Mame at the
Human Race Theatre Company.
It was the first time I've seen this on stage. I was, you may know, hoping
to be cast in this, but alas, no. Kudos to the cast and crew, and
especially to Robb Willoughby whom I believe made his HRTC debut with this.
Last Saturday I supposedly attended Isn't It Romantic as an
audience member, and I did go through the motions of giving my ticket to
the house assistant, sitting in a seat throughout both acts, and mostly
attending to the performance. But let's get real. I anticipated every
sound cue and scrutinized the sound volumes and balances; and almost
left after the epic fail, described above. Still, nice work from the cast
and crew, despite that one thing.
Couto's talk last night was more about getting your film hooked up with a
distributor than about actual film making. He's taken ten low-budget
features to final cut, most of which have a distribution deal. The most
exciting of those, right now, is
A Bulldog for Christmas,
which has international distribution, has already released in Great Britian,
including a television release, and will release within weeks in France.
Most of those mentioned above, if not all of them, are in the film. Ms.
Osborne has the key role.
On another note, I made sure to introduce myself to Henrique as a local
actor, and one who has worked with several of his past cast members.
Tonight marks the beginning of Weekend 2 of the run.
Tomorrow night I pinch hit for Jarred Mola as sound tech while he pinch
hits for Father Scott Wright and Patty Smith, our two alternating lighting
techs for the show, neither who can work tomorrow's performance.
Ms. Smith -- who, by-the-way, is The Guild's new House Management
Coordinator -- has, I believe, the holiday family obligations. Father
Scott, has some excuse about conducting a
Mass....Well, okay, Father, if you
I have my own family stuff going on but was able to manipulate a hole in
the itinerary to work the performance.
Saturday, as I earlier reported that I would, I substituted as sound tech
for Jarred Mola as he substituted for both of the production's swing
lighting techs, Father Scott Wright and Patty Smith, both who had
obligations keeping them from the booth. I also brought cookies for
intermission, as assigned -- okay, mini
brownie-muffins from Kroger.
I'd say running it went something like 98% smoothly. There were a couple
spots where the timing had been tweaked a little ofter I was off the board
and Jared was on; I wasn't dead on with some of those. These weren't what
I'd call "errors," so there's that.
Yesterday I then was in the lobby as the House Manager, also doing the
house assistant hosting duties.
Meanwhile, Back at the Rehearsal Hall:
I have begun to prepare to audition for a role that I am more than a
little doubtful I am correctly typed for, but I am going to audition for
anyway. I have gone after this role before, to no avail. I will use the
same material I used last time, only it will need to be
truncated, as the specs of this audition call for it to be
shorter....FILM AT 11.
I've already mentioned both these recently but they bear repeating. For
some actors I know, here's some good news about their screen work.
-- the J.C. Schroder
film starring Charity,
Forever's End, has
made a name for itself on the festival circuit and became available
through VOD, streaming, digital download, DVD and blu-ray, as well as
available for sale and rental on
and other services. And the sound track is available from iTunes, Amazon,
etc. I purchased my copy earlier this morning from iTunes.
-- Ms. Taint has appeared in several of
Henrique Couto's films,
but A Bulldog for Christmas
is of special note as it now has international distribution. It is
currently available in Great Britain -- at least -- and is, in fact,
showing on television there, and it will, in a little more than a week, be
available in France. The movie also features
Joni Durian, with whom I
have worked on at least one project, and it features
Marylee Osborne, whom, as
I wrote a few days back, I have never worked on stage or screen with, but
I know from the rent-payer.
*Just a reminder this can only be a small sampling of the
professional work of my friends and colleagues. I'm simply not
going to be aware of all their good fortunes. Plus, I may screw up
and learn of something and forget about it -- I can be that
way, easily. But if I know (and remember), I'll give a shout
out for the pro gig successes!
As is usually my habit, I have this year again featured some Christmas
holiday material from the dormant site proper --
or "Winter Season" holiday material, if you prefer. It
is, of course, heavy on Christian and pseudo-Christian stuff, but not all
of it is directly "Christian Christmas" related.
By-the-way, I haven't really been
taking writing submissions at the lit site for quite some time, but if you
send some good "Winter Season" holiday prose or poetry, I may
Still gearing up for an upcoming audition. I still am not at all sure I
am correctly typed for the role I want, and I can think of at least one
most-talented actor who is probably better suited for the role, an actor
whom I am willing to bet will audition. I am still going after the role
for the usual several reasons: 1) I might have a different idea than the
director about my fitting the type; 2) auditioning is a skill that takes
practice and I need to keep in practice; 3) I have, as of yet, for various
reasons, including schedule, never auditioned at this theatre and it's
time I did.
The audition program I will employ is going to push past the time limits
specified on the casting call, but I already contacted the director and
was told that it would be okay.
I have spent some portion of my weekend rehearsing for the forthcoming
audition, though not as much as I wished. My slight sore throat isn't
helping things. It made me spend most of the day yesterday just medicating
my throat with
Throat Coat tea,
with cough drops and honey added in, and the occasional gargle with lemon
juice and salt in hot water.
Thirty-four years ago today, I was twenty-two years old. I was, and still am, a
major Beatles fan, as was, and are, most of my friends whom I grew up with.
I had just recently been on the phone with one of my friends, whom I've
known since first grade, Jerry Spencer. A few years earlier, Jerry had
moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado. We had talked of the merits of John
Lennon's new album, Double Fantasy. Of the pros and cons of him
sharing space equally with Yoko Ono, and of the surprisingly good B-side to
the single, "Starting Over," a song written and sang by Yoko,
titled "Walking On Thin Ice." It stands, still today, as the best
thing Yoko has done musically, and actually good enough that if I were to
catch it while changing stations, I'd actually stop and give it a listen.
Not that there's much chance that would happen.
Jerry and I also talked of how excited we were that John was preparing to
announce a U.S., then international, concert tour to support the new album.
We were stoked!
December 8, 1980 was a Monday. For whatever reason, I had gone to bed
earlier than usual that day. I was still living with my parents and after
I'd been asleep some period of time, my mother came in and said,
"Jerry Spencer's on the phone."
Groggy, I picked up.
"Hey man, did you hear about John?"
In a fog I said, "Who?"
"John Lennon. Some nut just shot and killed him! Howard Cosell just
announced it on Monday Night Football."
"Yeah, right. And we know it's happened because he's barefoot on the
front cover of the album, right?"
"No, man! It's true! Some nut shot him and killed him."
Still, really not totally awake, I sort of acquiesced to the fact and said
goodbye to Jerry. I remember that I lay there for a moment and thought:
Well, guess I'm not going to ever meet John Lennon. Then drifted
It was getting ready for work the next morning and hearing the report on
the news. That's when it hit me. It was as if I had just found out that one
of my best friends in the world had died. The impact was overwhelming. I
sat down on the edge of the bathtub and wept.
John Lennon is dead.
John Lennon is dead!
JOHN FUCKING LENNON IS FUCKING DEAD!
Even as I write these words, three decades later, I feel the drop in my gut,
the hole in my chest, the sorrow.
"John Lennon is dead."
John Lennon and Paul McCartney, are to me, like many others, my major
artistic influence. I don't simply mean my major musical influence, I mean
that they had, and despite that many don't believe it, Paul still has, an
artistic approach that basically says, "Why not?"
As one in thousands of examples: Why not end a pop song with a major sixth
chord and dissident vocal harmony? ("She Loves You").
I was pretty young when the Beatles came out. I turned six in June of 1964,
so, though I was certainly aware of pop music, that the Beatles were
injecting rock and pop with a radical new twist on the genres was beyond my
thought processes. But I remember what in retrospect I think was my first
aesthetic appreciation of John. It was when I heard "Rain." I say
"think" because I know that in the studio, The Beatles were very
democratic about the arrangements and the process of recording their songs.
Any good idea to make the end product better was considered and often chosen.
John wrote "Rain," and as I got older I developed great poetic
appreciation for the message of the lyrics.
But as a kid, my first impression and what appealed to me was the sonic
presentation. There is this powerful wall of sound that stampedes like a
title wave of dark rich guitar chords and booming bass. It's one of the
first times I can remember really recognizing artistic craftwork. Somewhere
in the same period I heard "Eleanor Rigby" and I was starting to
know there was something special about The Beatles.
Of course, being the age I was, The Monkees were more my speed (inspired by
The Beatles movie Help, which, though I don't dislike it, is my
least favorite of all Beatles movies). The Monkees existed, in fact, because
The Beatles had no interest, whatsoever, in an offer to make a sitcom in
Well, then, in 1967 my older cousin Greg bought the album, Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band, and was fanatically raving about it. My family
and his spent a lot of time together in those days so I heard the album a
lot. And my enthusiasm for The Monkees as my favorite band began to quickly
fade. By the time I was ten, I was a die-hard Beatles fan.
I personally have a little bit more of an affinity for Paul McCartney, but
don't be mistaken: my love of John Lennon as an artist and human being is
strong. And there is no question that lyrically, John Lennon is the
strongest of The Beatles. He is, I believe, one of the best lyricists in
rock and pop history.
Sometimes beautifully poetic, other times, straight-and-direct-to-the-juggler
"Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away
Across the universe
Pools of sorrow
Waves of joy
Are passing though my open mind
Possessing and caressing me"
-- "Across The Universe"
"You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out
You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait
You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow"
John was probably a bit pretentious in his early 1970's anti-war
presentation, because, as anyone who's studied Beatles and/or John know,
his ego was pretty big and strong and certainly matched Paul's, and really,
in many ways dwarfed Paul's. That doesn't mean that there was anything
insincere about John's anti-war sentiment. It was not a PR stunt. And when
John said, Hey, the press is going to be following us (him and Yoko)
around, anyway. We might as well use the space they're going to give us,
no matter what we are doing and saying, to do and say something of value,
when he said this, it was not disingenuous.
As for his personal life, John was open in both his art and his interviews
about most of it. The raw honesty of his 1971 album Plastic Ono Band
makes it one of the greatest artworks of his career. Just as Paul had done
with his home-grown McCartney album the year before, and The Beatles
had done with their last released album (second to last recorded) Let It
Be, John also returned to a simpler presentation of the music: the
arrangements and production were bare boned, even more so than
McCartney. The opening cut, for instance, "Mother," is a
solo vocal, a piano, a drum kit and a bass guitar, recorded live in the
studio. No over-dubs. no double tracking. The only production trick is the
bongs of the tower clock at the start, which John slowed down and edited on.
That album is lyrically raw and relentlessly honest and unapologetic.
In "God," he basically says, among other things, "Suck it up
fans, The Beatles are over. I'm not a Beatle anymore.":
"God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
I'll say it again,
God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
I don't believe in magic,
I don't believe in I-ching,
I don't believe in bible,
I don't believe in tarot,
I don't believe in Hitler,
I don't believe in Jesus,
I don't believe in Kennedy,
I don't believe in Buddha,
I don't believe in mantra,
I don't believe in Gita,
I don't believe in yoga,
I don't believe in kings,
I don't believe in Elvis,
I don't believe in Zimmerman,
I don't believe in Beatles,
I just believe in me,
Yoko and me,
And that's reality.
The dream is over,
What can I say?
The dream is over,
I was dreamweaver,
But now I'm reborn,
I was the walrus,
But now I'm John,
And so dear friends,
You just have to carry on,
The dream is over."
In the famous interview on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder in 1975, he
explained that as a song writer all he's ever been doing is, "reporting
on the state [I am in] at the time."
In an interview not long after The Beatles broke up he was straight forward
about being a professional musician and a pop star. Asked if he was ever
worried of being accused of "selling out" his response was,
"Selling out to where? Any rocker who signs a contract with a record
company is selling his wares. 'Now I'm singing for my supper.' To think
you're not is to be fucking lying to yourself." (I'm quoting that from
memory but I'm pretty sure it's verbatim).
With the last album that John saw through to the final product, Double
Fantasy, his honesty was much less radical but no less straight forward.
The songs, mostly written toward the end of his self-imposed five-year
hiatus from the business showed the migration of philosophy toward a
middle-aged man who was at peace with himself much more than he'd ever been
in his life.
The philosophy of "I don't believe in Beatles" is clearly less
important than the idea of his family. There is an inherent message of being
a husband and being a father. Granted, the love-torn, "I'm Losing
You," is on the album, but that was written during his separation from
Yoko in the mid-70's, when he was bar hopping with Harry Nilsson to escape
his misery. Lennon included the song because it's a good mid-tempo rocker,
a good track.
Along with McCartney and some others of his generation, John is so
incredibly important to the movement forward of rock-and-roll and pop music
in general because of artistic inquisitiveness and his ability to think
outside the box. If he's not THE leader, he is one of a very few on a very
short list. Lennon didn't think there was anywhere that a rock artist
couldn't go musically and artistically. Anything was fair game to throw
into the mix. This was why he, McCartney, and George Harrison, (who is
arguably the first to be responsible for the fusion of Indian music into
rock and jazz), were so compatible artistically. *I didn't include Ringo
here because I'm addressing songwriting and major musical arrangement.
As one of my cultural icons, John Lennon transcends his musical appeal and
innovation, by his intellect and his use of his fame as a platform to ask
for, to appeal for, to try to influence us toward a better world, one where
love rules and hate and war and greed are relics from a yesterday.
I can't believe the world has been without him for over three decades. I feel my
weeping for him that morning so long ago as if it had been this morning.
I'm still saying Goodbye, today.
*originally posted on
Dec 8, 2010, this new version has been updated only to reflect
correct time frames
Throat Coat tea,
with cough drops and honey added in, and the occasional gargle with lemon
juice and salt in hot water has helped greatly with the compromised voice
condition, but my vocal abilities are still not up to par, so I will delay
my audition for a day, as I have that option.
I missed the Friday and Saturday performances of the closing weekend of
the show. I was there yesterday to conduct some business related to the
show, which included being there to help with Strike.
It turns out the cast and crew had an interesting Saturday performance. The
dolly platform, that rotated to change the settings for different scenes,
broke down. It was not reparable. So the cast and crew had to adapt the
scene changes for the rest of the Saturday show and then for all of the
Sunday show. They did adapt well, though. The Sunday audience was none the
wiser that something was not as it "should" be.
I don't know why I felt the need to be cryptic about what show I am
auditioning for, but for some reason I have felt the need. Whatever the
reason, I'll let you in on the "secret" that I auditioned last
Yorkey'sNext To Normal
at Beavercreek Community Theatre.
Well, despite having a troubling sore throat, I had a successful audition,
though it was challenged and marred by the throat difficulties. I got a
tickle in my throat that seemed to grow exponentially as my song
progressed, and it did effect delivery adversely. In fact, the
worse of it was actually on the front end of the song, where I almost
couldn't finish a couple of the early phrases. They certainly were not as
strong as they should have been.
Also, because the accompanist was playing my sheet music cold, some of the
dynamics I am use to were missing, and I allowed that to throw me. I sang
the Paul McCartney Beatle song,
"You Never Give Me Your Money,"
which I have used before to target this particular show. I had to tone down
the more raucous vocalization toward the end because I needed to adapt to
the energy from my accompaniment. I had no chance to show the more
rock-vocal aspects, which I still had the capability to do, even with the
throat condition. I had rehearsed to see what I had to do to get there with
the compromised vocal abilities, and had discovered what I needed to do,
but I did not get to do that.
Please don't misunderstand; I'm putting none of this on the accompanist;
she was playing the song cold, probably having never seen the music before;
if I got somewhat thrown because I didn't get the energy I had anticipated,
that from the performance from the original recording, that's on me. I am
the one completely and solely responsible to ride the wave that comes my
way. If I got locked in and had trouble altering my take, that's something
for me to work on. At least I did adapt, if falteringly, after a bit of a
discombobulation; I think I may have missed a pick-up toward the end of
the performance, and I didn't get to go out with the rock-and-roll scream
I had planned. I'd grade my performance as C+. C'est la vie.
On the other hand, I got a call back, so there ya go. To be honest, the
call back is a pleasant surprise; I did not expect it. Now, of course, I
woke up this morning with a little heavier congestion in my chest, and the
call back is tonight. I'm not going to work at
the rent-payer, but I
wouldn't have been going regardless of the call back.
Last night I went to the call backs for
Yorkey'sNext To Normal
at Beavercreek Community Theatre,
Despite still having sore throat problems. My vocal ability was still
compromised, plus I was called back for the doctor, so got pretty
familiar with all his songs, but they had all the older adult men sing Dan
(the husband/father) songs. I faltered some because of that. I am not the
world's greatest sight-reader; in fact, I really am not a sight
reader; I essentially can't read music. I did have the chance, while other
characters were auditioning, to listen, via headphones, to the songs from
the Broadway recording, stored on my phone, but I was still shaky on the
melodies, so my performance would have been tentative even if I'd had full
One of the best things about
the rent-payer is that when
auditions are coming up I can almost always get the script from our
collection, thanks to the acting program in the
Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures department.
The collection of scripts in the library is pretty damned good and quite
up-to-date. Usually if the play isn't absolutely brand new and it has had
any sort of notoriety, there's a copy. Sometimes there isn't; sometimes
there is but someone already has it checked out. But my average at
getting hold of a script I want is high.
I also sometimes check out the material after I am cast, especially for
musicals -- which has meant, until now, only professional gigs at
The Race. I like to get the
libretto (at least), the vocal score (if I can), and I love to get the
master score. I did get the libretto for this show; the vocal score was
already checked out; the library doesn't have the whole score, which is not
uncommon. Often the publishers won't let the whole production scores go to
any but those producing the show.
So at least I have the libretto (the dialogue and lyrics), and, of course,
I've had the
original Broadway cast recording
for a couple years -- every since I found out The Race was doing it
(I.E. my first go at trying to be cast). There is a little musical
moment missing: Diana's delusional perception of Dr. Madden when they
first meet. She has these moments of hallucination where Madden belts out
short rock-vocal lines. Those aren't included on the sound track. I
managed to find and capture the segment on-line, recorded at a live
So now I have an assemblage of Next to Normal material by which to
study my role(s). I write "role(s)" because "Doctor"
is actually two doctors: Dr. Fine and Dr. Madden, Madden being more
We have the table read tomorrow
night. Tonight I will prep myself a bit. I'm certain we are not singing
tomorrow night, but I plan to sing a capella the little rock-doctor
interludes I wrote about above. After the table-read we're off until Jan 5,
and I'm actually off until Jan 6, because I'll be shooting the promocast
video for DTG's production
of 4000 Miles
on Monday, Jan 5. But in the meantime, between this Wednesday and January,
I have a lot of time to get familiar with the music and the script in
general. To accentuate the opportunity, I am off from the rent-payer from
December 24 through New Year's Day, so there's a big window of study time.
This both sucks and doesn't suck. For some reason I got the urge to start
writing a play script Saturday evening. I was watching an episode of
Season 1 (the British version with
Kenneth Branagh) when the
voice of the Muse tickled my soul strings. By the way, I recommend the
WALLANDER series, highly.
I didn't start off with a strong story idea, but a strong setting with two
characters -- place and mood.
I have the mixed emotions about this because it's something else to demand
time, energy and commitment.
As for the promocast shoot for this one, I did get clearance to use
dialogue in the DV movie. That means that some of that time off from work
will be spent attending rehearsals so I have an idea of what to shoot on
Jan 5., and how to shoot it.
Last night was the read-through. It went well. We did not sing; we listened
to the appropriate songs from the sound track when they came up in the
script. I did actually sing the rock-doctor hallucination moments, a
cappella. And, of course, most of us could be heard singing along with
our own songs, if sometimeS quietly.
Meanwhile, here's the cast list:
cast list updated 02/19/2015 to reflect addition of Geoff Moss
The production team, thus far, is: Matt Owens (Director); David McKibben
(Musical Director); Emily Phillips (Stage Manager); John Falkenbach
(Producer & Lighting Designer); Jenn Clark (Accompanist); Kathleen
Carroll (Costume Designer).
Those of you reading this who are familiar with the theatre community in
Dayton, Ohio will know that this past Saturday evening we lost one of our
elder statesman, a man who was one of my colleagues at
The Dayton Theatre Guild,
Mr. Ralph Dennler.
I am putting my thoughts together about this tremendous loss, and I will
post something, most likely on Friday, the 26th.
As I wrote Wednesday, those of you from the Dayton, Ohio area theatre
community already know that
long-time veteran of theatre in the area, passed away last Saturday
evening, one week ago, succumbing to cancer.
Ralph was a long-standing board member at
making it his home theatre almost fifty years ago.
Those of you not from the area, let me tell you about Ralph, at
least that which I know of him. He had several stints as the board
president, and I believe, the chairman as well. Up until a couple
months ago, when his failing health finally made it too difficult,
he was our current Theatre Ops VP. He also, for years, was the
point man for securing the many beneficial and generous private
donations that have greatly helped keep our theatre more than
solvent. In conjunction, Ralph was always coming to the board to
get approval to invest in money markets and other stock ventures.
Until he was no longer able, Ralph came to the theatre everyday to
check on things, to make sure the building was secure and had no
problems, and to bring the mail in.
Ralph was a driving force in the move from the old Salem Avenue
venue to our current location. For a few years it was to be the
move from Salem to the dreamed construction of a new theatre on
property purchased at Fourth and Patterson, in downtown Dayton.
Ralph was an active part of growing the Building Fund to meet that
goal. However, the cost of construction kept staying too far ahead
of the funds raised. The ground breaking did not seem close in
sight. By the time of this realization, I was a board member and
part of the decision to turn our focus to finding a new structure
that might fit our needs. Ralph was still in the forefront, setting
aside the idea of building a new theatre and embracing the search
to find a building we could repurpose. When we found our new home
on Wayne, Ralph was one of the leaders who assured we would
transform an old gym club into a theatre space to be proud of. He
was one of those instrumental in the achievement of paying off the
mortgage in only a few years. He's been instrumental in keeping the
building fund in the black. And Ralph spearheaded our new marquee,
which is one of the last of many great contributions he's made
during his decades of leadership.
Of course, as is true of most board members at most non-professional
theatres (and maybe at many professional ones), Ralph was an actor,
who appeared many times on The Guild stage and other stages,
including some professional gigs on stage and screen. He was also
a director. During my thus-far brief tenure with The Guild, I was
only on stage in two productions with Ralph, and I was never
directed by him. I was first on stage with him in
I Never Sang for My Father
at The Guild in 2006, where he had the role of Tom Garrison. The
other time was when he appeared in one or two performances only of
The Best Man,
also at The Guild. Ralph stepped into the role of President
Hockstader when Burt Staub, who was cast in the role, fell ill and
was relegated to bed. Of course, with no rehearsal under his belt,
Ralph had to appear on stage with the script in his hand, but his
performance was engaging and audience members soon stopped noticing
said script in said hand.
I only knew Ralph for a brief ten years, but these last ten years
seem like a lifetime as I have re-embedded myself into the theatre
arts after far too long away from it. Ralph was a constant in this
new life of mine, whom, I realize now, I often allowed myself to
take for granted.
In those ten years, Ralph was always a gentleman who conducted
himself as a true statesman would. He was a man of integrity who
kept the integrity of The Guild as an upmost goal. I know for a
fact that if he thought a script was beneath The Guild's standards
he was not impressed if the production of it brought in money; he
still would have preferred we had not done the show. Yet, when the
play reading committee voted to recommend such a show and the board
voted to produce such a show, Ralph would throw his support behind
it. Because he was a gentleman.
In board meetings Ralph very often played the devil's advocate
when we were discussing actions we might take, most especially
when those actions involved spending money. Honestly, I will admit
that on occasions I would get a little annoyed when Ralph started
sentences with such things as, "Have we considered...."
Yet, as annoying as I might have sometime found his devil's
advocate stance, the truth is that quite often he forced us other
board members to consider a possible negative ramification that we
otherwise would not have contemplated.
He also was very vocal that we maintain good stewardship
concerning when, how and why we spend our money. Financially, we
have often been greatly in the black, usually we are, in fact.
Again, Ralph's savvy as a fund-raiser has contributed heavily to
that condition. He still was always a voice endorsing prudence in
the spending of any money. He was one of the voices in the
discusion calling for justification of whatever purchase. If it
wasn't a necessity or a true enhancement, why should we spend the
I believe now, when we are in board meetings discussing actions
and/or expenditures, one of the questions we need to ask ourselves
is: What would Ralph's objection be?
The dark marquee
Speaking of objections:
One of the last of the long, long list of Guild achievements that
Ralph was instrumental in bringing about was the digital marquee
that went live last May. As tribute to Ralph, we darkened the marquee
this past Tuesday afternoon, just shortly before his viewing began
and kept it dark until Wednesday evening. Of course, Ralph would
have objected to that. I can hear Ralph 's protestation:
"Well, I appreciate the gesture, but my concern is that we
have a show to promote."
Sorry, Ralph, some things just have to be done.
One of the achievements I am most proud of as a member of the DTG
board is that Ralph had come to view me as a colleague whom he
respected, trusted and relied upon. As kind as Ralph was, he didn't
really suffer fools. He would never be unkind nor rudely dismiss
them, but he wasn't going to call upon them, either. If Ralph had
a high opinion of you, you knew he believe you proved it a worthy
assessment. That Ralph had a high opinion of me and respected me
is a tremendous compliment, which makes me feel most honored.
I certainly have a high opinion and great respect for Ralph.
Goodbye, dear sir. We will honor your dedication and integrity in
all we do to maintain and enhance that which you spent nearly
fifty years engaged with. May we live up to your passion.
Next To Normal,
which I borrowed until the read-through rehearsal, when I
was given one by our director.
Today I start the full-on work learning dialogue lines and much of my
vocal melodies for the show. The hitch is that my sore through relapsed back
somewhat. It was on the mend, but went into reversal. It got worse, in
fact, as I got a chest cold.
I'd had that whole action going where I did my vocal warm-ups then dropped
my "White Album"
CD into my player and sang along with the first nine or so songs from the
album, to work out my voice. Then my throat health went south and it became
a counter-productive endeavor.
The last two days I've spent medicated up and sleeping a lot. My voice is
now again on the mend, somewhat, but nowhere close to par, and I still have
congestion in my chest. I may work on melody and lyrics, but work on
full-voice phrasing will have to wait. Today will mark the start of
line work. We'll begin with the famous index-card flash cards.
The good thing is that in a musical, there aren't a lot of lines. There
are the lyrics, but as I study the melodies on the CD, those will be
worked on, too.
My next rehearsal call is Tuesday, January 6. I may not walk in off-book,
but I plan to be at least somewhere in the neighborhood.
I would be remiss if I didn't pay tribute to the "Mad
Dog & Englishman." For those of us who were/are
conscious of pop music from the late sixties, the
seventies, and the early eighties, Joe Cocker was a strong
and unique presence of that era. He was a unique voice in
Rock & Roll, both figuratively and literally.
And let's face it, Joe's
"With a Little Help From My Friends"
is the quintessential Beatles cover. It set the bar, and
arguably, though others have come close, no one has
matched nor cleared it.
I still am sick. I have spent all of this time off from work sick and have
executed little of my plan to study on spoken lines, lyrics and melodies
for Dr. Fine and Dr. Madden. I'm going to give it a try this afternoon
and evening. I don't really feel like going out and celebrating New Years
Eve tonight. There's a large chance I'll be asleep at midnight.
Whether or not I work on vocals much today is, as it was the other day,
dependent on what shape my throat and larynx are in after treatment and
warm-ups. I'd hoped to start attacking the vocal phrasings during this
break, but it's pointless with compromised vocal health. First, my voice
needs to be in shape in order to pinpoint what I'll do with a healthy
voice; second, pushing my voice when the voice is not in shape exasperates
the problem. Again, though, I can still work on memorizing lines, lyrics
and melody lines.