"Curtains" – Some Observations

CurtainsLet me start by repeating that I loved the show.  Spending the last 8 months immersing myself in the sound and music aspects of community theatre has now changed forever the way I view performances.  So this post is about my personal take-aways and how I will try to use them in my future work.  It’s all about the details…

The sound work was generally  good. There were no credits in the program for either sound design or sound ops.  Surprising.  I’m guessing that the sound work was done by Wheaton College students.

All the lead actors were mic’d with wireless rigs and they were well balanced.  But the mic’s were not  dressed particularly well and in a couple of cases, took away from the overall aesthetics of the excellent costumes.  A little more time and a little more tape would have made a big difference.  There were 4 stage mic’s across the from of the stage.  These worked well capturing the ensemble’s sound.  There were 2 overhead mic’s hung at center stage but I couldn’t tell if they were for recording or reinforcement.

The few sound effects (basically gunshots) were miscued and so didn’t really provide the extra tension in a couple of scenes.  Having been in this situation myself a couple of times, it’s worth fighting for a little more tech time to get the timing of critical sound effects nailed.  The other aspect that I found surprisingly distracting was that the gun shots were coming from the main speakers above the stage.  Having worked on a couple of shows that made use of additional, localized stage speakers, I really appreciate the extra bit of realism that provides.  It’s something I will push for when I get a chance to do some sound design (hopefully this spring).

The music.  As I mentioned in my previous post, there was an excellent 11-pc orchestra.  They were un-mic’d (at least as far as I could see).  The Musical Director (David Renoni – music teacher at Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton) created a nice local balance of the band in most cases.  There were only a few situations where I felt that the band over-powered the singers

My take-aways from the band are:

Mic the French Horn – I love this sound and it tends to get lost without a little help.

A band should always have a bass.  This one didn’t for some reason.  Bass is definitely in the original show orchestration and the bottom end was definitely missed in the overall mix.

Trumpet players play too loudly.  As an ex-trumpet player, this is hard for me to admit.  But it ‘s really true.  I actually heard a couple of different folks from the audience mention this as we were leaving the theatre.  And I don’t think this means amplifying the rest of the band to match the trumpets – the MD needs to work on getting them to listen harder and play softer.

That’s it for this show.  A fantastic show, talented performers, an excellent band and a few tidbits for me to remember/use in the future.

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