Just thinking how the news about Broadway’s Tony Awards dropping the prize for Sound Design is so troubling. My goodness, it renews in me so much appreciation for the fine designers and technicians we have here at Paramount Theatre. I know many of you are with me on this. There has been so much growth developing technical excellence in our productions. At one point, it seemed for one step forward there were two steps back. It makes my head spin to think of how enormous a problem it is to balance 24 or more actors’ microphones with as many musicians in the pit. Just getting every voice and instrument simply being heard is a feat. And the thing is, the better the design the less noticeable it is! So this accomplishment tends to go unacknowledged when it is most optimal! And to be truly excellent it is so much more than getting everything at a level of clarity. Sound is as much a part of the nuance of the emotional and psychological environment of a story as are the sets and lights and costumes. And yet it is least appreciated. And when it hasn’t been finessed, it can ruin a show more so than any other production value. Good sound makes the production look better. The lights look better. The sets look better. The actors act better, and the dancers dance better. It is a huge factor in the success of our productions and something we never stop working on as its requirements change from show to show. Sound waves are real! Frequencies bounce around differently from set to set, from day to day! Every show has different types of musical instruments, and when you get into contemporary shows, electronic instruments are mixed with acoustic instruments and the human voice! Sound designers are juggling and mixing and balancing and then wanting nuance as well! For every production, I stand in awe of the men and women who make it work! It makes me think about the other jobs that go unnoticed. The running crews backstage and the stage managers. Without them, ladies and gentlemen, nothing would happen! There would be no show. No lights or mics or sets on cue. It looks so smooth and magical but there are very dedicated individuals doing a magnificent job to make it all happen. They get no awards. But none of us do this work for awards. I have to feel the reward is in the doing. We are all here because there is nowhere else we’d rather be. Art requires passion. It requires each and everyone of us to care about what we are doing and why we are doing it. There couldn’t possibly be enough awards to recognize all those who work so diligently to make theatre happen and make it happen successfully. But the Sound Design is about a team of men and women attending every spoken word, every note sung and played, scrutinizing and hanging on every single thing you hear for clarity and intelligibility on that stage. It is a major element in the success of a show. Excellence in Sound Design deserves recognition. And what I love about this whole topic is how it reminds us of how winning awards really isn’t the point. This isn’t a contest. We do it because we have to. We don’t have to compete with each other as much as appreciate excellence in each other.
Yes, love & thanks!