Paul Allen – Sound Operator 2

 

Join Arbonne

This was taken from the Priscilla On Stage Website – priscillaonstage.com

The sound operator is in charge of mixing both the cast vocals and the band live throughout the show. In the teching period we’ll have sound operators on stage furiously running around fixing mic positions, as well as people on the sound desk mixing the levels. So during the tech we find a general pre-set of the levels, but it is just a rough mark.

Sound Desk

All it takes is for one of the cast to not be feeling well and singing quieter, for you to have to push their levels higher to compensate. The same thing can happen with the band, when we have people into cover who sit a little further away from the mics. You have to constantly be on the ball.

The sound desk looks very complicated, but once you know your way around there is a lot of repetition to all the knobs and switches. Go West is a busy number on the sound desk. In Go West, there are so many song and dialogue parts, you have to bring the band down quietly so the audience can hear the vocals, whilst keeping the energy levels up. All the songs in Priscilla are so well known you have to make sure that you are getting across everything that people are expecting to hear.

I’ve worked on Spring Awakening, Joseph, Art House’s UK Tour. As always it is more who you know than what you know, when trying to break in. It’s a case of dropping your CV off to people. It took me a good six months of dropping my CV to West End theatres before I got a break. It’s about starting at the bottom and slowly working your way up.

My favourite parts of Priscilla are Macarthur Park and Hot Stuff, particularly when you are working on the sound desk. Just before Macarthur Park, the show has slowed down a bit and with Macarthur Park the energy levels of the audience pick right up again.

Sound engineer – Tom Marshall

For more info about Tom and how you can get into theatre go to getintotheatre.org.
Tom Marshall started working in the sound department of a West End show after his A-levels. Now a successful freelance sound engineer, he hopes to build his profile as a sound designer.

 

“Live sound is something that cannot really be taught in a classroom”

Hometown
I’m from the home counties, and am currently residing in Kingston Upon Thames

Tom Marshall - Sound engineer

What do you do?
Freelance sound engineer

How long have you been at it?
Thirteen years

What was your very first role in theatre?
Working in the sound department on the original London production of Fame.

What else have you done?
I’ve worked as either associate or assistant sound designer on shows including the UK tours of Never Forget, The Full Monty and The King and I, Daddy Cool in London and Berlin and Cabaret at Teatro Della Luna, Milan.

I was No. 1 sound engineer on Porgy and Bess, Savoy Theatre, Acorn Antiques The Musical, Theatre Royal Haymarket and Anything Goes, Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Before that I worked as No. 2 and No. 3 sound engineer on shows including Oliver! at the London Palladium and West Side Story at the Prince Edward Theatre.

I’ve also been FOH engineer for bands including PJ Harvey, The Coral, Martina Topley-Bird and Cord.

Have you got qualifications?
Just school qualifications – GCSEs & A-levels

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A train driver, a musician, or an architect

What do you do all day?
There’s never a typical day. As I’m freelance, one day I could be mixing a band or concert; the next I could be rigging speakers in the rain, or sitting at the back of a dark theatre making sound effects.

If I’m working as a theatre No.1 sound engineer, I’m likely to do the following:

Arrive at about 5pm, have a cup of tea and a chat. Switch on the sound system and spend about an hour checking that every single piece of equipment works correctly (desks, speakers, pit mics, radio mics etc)
Have a bit to eat about 6pm until the half hour call, at which point the backstage team (No.2 & No.3) will go around affixing radio mics to cast.
After the show collect mics and power down as quickly as possible and go for a drink!

What’s the best thing about your job?
The adrenaline and excitement of live performance and the satisfaction of making something sound nice. The audience’s reaction at a good show.

And the worst?
Lots of sitting around, waiting for things to happen. Not seeing the sun during technical periods. The anti-social hours

What’s your dream job in theatre?
To do what I’m doing – slowly achieving the role of sound designer on a successful show

Got any wise words for someone who wants to be where you are now?
Sound, especially live sound is something that cannot really be taught in a classroom. The only way to learn and be good at it is to get out there and start at the bottom. Learn from others by watching and listening and having a go yourself. Always be prepared to learn something new every day and never be afraid to say “I don’t know how that works” – I still do!

To be good at mixing music and songs it’s important to have an understanding of how music works. Not necessarily being able to read or play an instrument, but having the ability inside you to use the tools around you to become part of the orchestra, band or performer and flow with the situation to create something exciting.

Of course having the right attitude is of great importance. The theatre is generally a very happy and exciting environment to work in and you should consider yourself fortunate to be in such an industry.

Head of Sound – West End Musicals

Show Sound Team Email
billy No. 1 Graeme Asher
bodyguard No. 1 Digby Shaw tbgsound@me.com
jersey boys No. 1 Jamie Taylor
les mis No. 1 Adrian Cobey
matilda No.1 Leigh Davies
Rock of Ages No. 1 Paul Allen
No.2 Owen Visser
No. 3 Dan Evans
 sound@rocklondon.uk.com
The Book of Mormon No. 1 Simon Fox
The Lion King No. 2 Laura Cordey
phantom No. 1 Laurie Kirby
top hat No. 1 Mike Thacker  tophatsound@icloud.com
viva forever
warhorse No. 1 Rob Summers
No. 2 Monkey
No. 3Natasha Kirby
warhorsesoundlondon@gmail
we will rock you No. 1 Simon Sayer  sound.wwry@btconnect.com
wicked No. 1 “H”
No. 2 Daniel Higgott
 daniel.higgott@me.com

Rob Summers – Head of Sound – Priscilla

Rob Summers | Sound Engineer | Sound Designer

Rob Summers started his career on the musical CATS at the New London Theatre back in 1986. Since then he has worked on numerous shows including Miss Saigon, Mamma Mia, Les Misérables, Beautiful and Damned, My Fair Lady and The King and I.

Rob Summers has been a production engineer on Buddy, Summer Holiday, Scrooge the Musical, Re-Arranged and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour), West Side Story and Annie the Musical.

Rob Summers was also Sound Designer on Richard O’Brien’s The Stripper, Tommy Steele, In Concert (UK Tour), Michael Barrymore’s Laid Back Tour (UK Tour) and the world tour on Spirit of the Dance.

Someone once said, my job is 95% PR and 5% PA

rob summers

Rob Summers

Hometown
Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Rob Summers – What do you do?

I’m currently the Head of Sound on Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre, London.

How long have you been at it?

Priscilla, 17 months. Working in theatre sound, 25 years.

What was your very first role in theatre?

After my Dad passed away I stopped wanting to become a forensic scientist and started working on the stage crew on CATS at the New London Theatre.

What else have you done?

I was Sound Designer on Richard O’Brien’s The Stripper, Tommy Steele, In Concert (UK Tour), Michael Barrymore’s Laid Back Tour (UK Tour) and the world tour on Spirit of the Dance.

I have been in charge of fit-ups and get-outs for shows such as Buddy, Summer Holiday, Scrooge the Musical, Re-Arranged and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour), West Side Story and Annie the Musical.

I am no longer Head of Sound on Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Have you got qualifications?

When I started doing this there wasn’t many schools that did exams in sound. I was more of a learn on the job type of guy. I was very lucky to learn from many great people like Graham Simpson, Alan Stretch and Ken Hampton.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A policeman or a forensic scientist.

What do you do all day?

It depends on what I’m doing. If I’m a designing a show, I could be doing meetings with producers, directors or sound companies discussing budgets or systems. As a PE, I could be sorting paper work and booking crews. As head of sound on Priscilla, it’s my job to make sure every bit of the sound system works. That includes all comms and the pit as well.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I still get excited about opening a new show. I have always said I would give up when that dies.

And the worst?

Working at the weekend and certain requests like “can you turn me up cause my Mum is in”

What’s your dream job in theatre?

I fancy being a Diva in Priscilla, I like all the flying they do…..

Rob Summers, Have you got any wise words for someone who wants to be where you are now?

I can’t teach you how to mix but I show you how to mix. It doesn’t matter how many years you have been at college, everyday is a school day. List all the things you are good and bad at. Now work on all your bad things till they are good. I was never good at EQ. So I would sit with headphones on and EQ a SM58 until I became better.

My position now is more of a teaching position. It’s my job to teach my No.2 and No.3 what to do and what NOT to do. Someone once said, my job is 95% PR and 5% PA. It’s true. Learn how to talk and deal with people and you will do well.

Lastly, if you are going to send your CV to me or any other head of sound, please make sure to find out who you are sending it to. Because if you can’t be bothered, nor can I.

Rob Summers would like to thank his family.

Rob Summers can be found at the back of the stalls at the Palace theatre till 2012.

Rob Summers

Audio Engineer – What is a Sound Engineer

Sound Engineer – What are they?

Anyone who knows a sound engineer would say they do sweet FA. They swan around making themselves look busy. But in realitly they are the guys and gals that work backstage making sure all the sound equipment work for bands, theatre, TV corporate gigs and the like so people like you can hear.

A Sound Engineer is responsible for what the audience hears.

Depending on where they work, they may:

  • plan recording sessions with producers and artists.plan recording sessions with producers and artists
  • operate equipment for recording, mixing and sequencing.mixing and sequencing
  • balancing and adding effects.balancing and adding effects
  • position microphones.position microphones

They record onto a multi-track tape machine or a hard disk drive, before mixing and mastering for final production. The master can then be made into various formats, including CD, minidisc, DVD-A (Digital Versatile Disc-Audio), SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc), MP3 or digital audio files in different formats.

Hours can be long and unpredictable, and night and weekend work is common. They also need to be flexible as their hours may depend on the availability of artists and producers and the needs of the production project.

Most of the work of a sound engineer is carried out in recording or post-production studios which can be air conditioned, spacious and well equipped, but smaller studios may be more uncomfortable.

A sound engineer may earn range from around £15,000 up to £75,000 a year.sound engineer

A Sound Engineer should have:

  • excellent hearing. hearing
  • the ability to listen and to differentiate between sounds. l
  • a good sense of pitch, timing and rhythm. timing and rhythm
  • a knowledge of sound recording and post-production. post-production
  • a good knowledge of and interest in different types of music.  sound engineer

A sound engineer may be employed by commercial recording and audio post-production studios. Most of the major employers are based in London, but there are many smaller independent studios around the country. Many are freelance. Competition for jobs is fierce. Networking, the ability to make personal contacts and experience in the industry are vital for a sound engineer.

It may be possible to enter the industry as a sound engineer without formal qualifications. Some commercial studios and audio post-production facilities houses take on runners or assistants who perform routine tasks. If they show promise they may eventually work their way up the ladder. Larger studios may require applicants to have a related qualification. There is a wide range of relevant courses for a sound engineer at various levels.

A good sound engineer who has built up a reputation may become producers. Others may specialise in a particular area or go on to set up their own recording studios.

Rob Summers is a sound engineer on the West End hit, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

I hope you have enjoyed my article on what is a sound engineer and how they do it.

Aiden Cloney – Number 2 Sound Engineer

This was taken from the Priscilla On Stage Website – priscillaonstage.com

We are in charge of all the backstage sound, the radio mics, the pit, the on stage sound and the general running of the sound elements in the backstage area. Then for 4 shows a week I do the mixing of the show from the sound desk at the back of the stalls.

We run off the dialogue and music clues, but in certain sound situations like the bus breaking down we are cued from cue lights by the assistant stage manager. This is so the sound effect, the lights and the automation are all in sequence.

On a typical day I’ll get in at 4.30pm to do a sound check for about an hour and then we break for any maintenance that needs doing after that. We are then ready for the half hour call of the show.

Aiden Cloney

Priscilla is a fairly complicated show from a sound front. A lot of shows are driven by the dialogue, where as this show is driven a lot by the music. The first 2o minutes are the most intense, as there are some very quick scene changes and four or five musical numbers. Dynamically it’s all over the place, you have a full number, then a dialogue scene, then part of a number, then a dialogue scene, etc. so there are a lot of ups and downs.

I’ve previously worked on the Sound of Music, Joseph, Blood Brothers and Chicago. Having some kind of educational basis in sound is good if you want to work in this department in theatre. I did a BTEC in Performing Arts, which allowed me to do a lot of live recording and sound. It’s important to get into a local theatre as a casual member of staff and state that your preference is sound. You’re then quite likely to be put on sound get ins or be working with other sound engineers. If you are in London, hand your CV’s to the number one sound engineers at the West End, because often we’ll get people to come in and cover a show when someone is on holiday. A lot of people get in that way, it’s how I got into the West End.

My favourite numbers to both listen to and to work on are Colour my World, Kylie Medley and We Belong. Priscilla is just an amazing feel good musical, which is full of great numbers. It’s hilarious. It is pink and fluffy in some places and a little thorny in other places.

All New People by Zach Braff

all new people by zach braffZach Braff aka JD in Scrubs and All New People

A few years back I got into the TV show Scrubs starring Zach Braff (All New People). It’s a great little hospital comedy that makes you laugh and cry all in 20 minutes.

A few days back I put in the sound system for Zach Braff’s new play All New People.

All New People is Zach’s debut into playwriting. All New People is based in a beach house on Long Beach Island, New Jersey in snowy Winter.

Zach Braff’s character Charlie finds himself interrupted by an English estate agent (Eve Myles), a fireman (Paul Hilton) and a hooker (Susannah FIelding) while trying to top himself.

This is at times very funny and is a great first try.

All New People by Zach Braff in the USA

All New People was origninally produced by Second Stage Theatre at the Tony Kiser Theatre, New York City, opening on 25th July 2011. It featured the following cast and creative team:

Charlie      Justin Bartha
Emma        Krysten Ritter
Myron        David Wilson Barnes
Kim             Anna Camp

With special appearances by Keith Conway, Tony Goldwyn and S. Epatha Merkerson.

Director                       Peter DuBois
Set Designer               Alexander Dodge
Costume Designer     Bobby Frederick Tilley II
Lighting Designer      Japhy Weideman
Sound Designer          M. L. Doog
Projections                   Aaron Rhyne
Stage Manager            Lori Ann Zepp

 

All New People by Zach BraffAll New People in the UK

All New People had its UK premiere at the Manchester Opera House on 8th February 2012, and toured to the King’s Theatre, Glasgow before opening at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London. Produced by Howard Panter, Adam Speers and Evanna White for Ambassador Thetare Group, it featured the following cast and creative team:

Charlie         Zach Braff
Emma          Eve Myles
Myron          Paul Hilton
Kim               Susannah Fielding

Director                        Peter DuBois
Set Designer                Alexander Dodge
Lighting Designer      Paul Anderson
Sound Designer          Fergus O’Hare
Production Sound      Rob Summers
Projection Designer   Duncan Mclean

All New People by Zach Braff is currently playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London.

Audio-Technica ATH M50 – Headphones Review

Audio-Technica-ATH-M50

Audio Technica ATH M50 – Are they worth the Money?

I used the Audio Technica ATH M50 headphones on a show last year. They were not bad. They do look a little plasticy but they are solid.

Even though they were very comfortable and did isolate well, I did find I had to push them onto my ear when I was trying to PLF (Pre Fade Listen) the band.

I must admit to liking the bottom end in these headphones. They have a lovely uncoloured detailed sound.

Being a sound engineer, I never have to buy headphones, the production company supply them. But most shows go for the cheaper option and at £109.00 the Audio Technica ATH M50 headphones are not cheap but they are worth every penny.

Below are some descriptions of the Audio Technica ATH M50 headphones and customers reviews.

Audio Technica ATH M50 headphones

Audio Technica ATH M50 headphones Manufacturer’s Description

With the ATH-M50s professional studio monitor headphones, audio-technica has achieved an exceptionally accurate response and long-wearing listening comfort. Designed especially for professional monitoring and mixing, these studiophones feature an efficient collapsible design for space-saving portability and storage. Circumaural ear pieces swivel 180° for easy one-ear monitoring and luxuriously padded ear cushions create an outstanding seal for maximum isolation. The adjustable headband is generously padded for ultimate comfort during long mixing sessions. A straight cable at the left earpiece terminates to a gold-plated mini plug with included screw-on 1/4″ adapter.

Product Description

HEADPHONES (BLACK)With the ath-m50s professional studio monitor headphones, Audio-technica has achieved an exceptionally accurate response and long-wearing listening comfort. Designed especially for professional monitoring and mixing, these studiophones feature an efficient collapsible design for space-saving portability and storage. Circumaural ear pieces swivel 180° for easy one-ear monitoring and luxuriously padded ear cushions create an outstanding seal for maximum isolation. The adjustable headband is generously padded for ultimate comfort during long mixing sessions. A straight cable at the left earpiece terminates to a gold-plated mini plug with included screw-on ¼” adapter. Djs will appreciate their robust, road-tested build quality, and with an impressive crystal clear sound to match, these are a must have for studio or industry professionals.

Check Out The Audio Technica ATH M50 headphones for yourself

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing as expected,11 Nov 2011

This review is from: Audio-Technica ATH M50 – Headphones ( ear-cup ) (Electronics)

I purchased these after doing some research on others experiences with them. I have personally only tried a few other headphones such as Bose noise cancelling and Bose AE2, Dr. dre beats, and a bunch of the sennheiser phones in higher price ranges. I can say I am extremely happy with the choice I made, and would not trade the M50s for any of the others I tried. I listen mostly to classical music, and they sound excellent right out of the box. As others have said, the music is much more nuanced, but of course more so on tracks with higher bit rates. I wanted to push them more so I put on some rap and R&B music. Wow oh wow oh wow!! The way the bass reverberates around your skull is incredible.

These provide spectacular value, considering the quality you get is equivalent to, or better, than phones in significantly higher price ranges. I would recommend them.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars The Daddy,8 Nov 2011
This review is from: Audio-Technica ATH M50 – Headphones ( ear-cup ) (Electronics)

I bought these after a period of contemplating about getting them, then not getting them, and going for some Sennheiser IE7′s instead, for noise abatement reasons.

I got some Amazon vouchers recently and decided to get the M50′s as well after all.

Great choice – I forgot how much I loved them (I used the Audio Technica trial service – WELL worth a go). Sound is crisp, textured and deep.

My first play was James Blake – it literally made my eyes water with the bass (good quality bass), which for headphones that people sometimes point out can be too natural is suprising. To me it just shows the headphones abilities – you can have heavy bass or not, just depends what you feed in them. Personally I would much rather have these true headphones that something naff like the Beats headphones which colours the sound.

Buy these, you wont be disappointed – best £110 you’ll ever spend.

 

5.0 out of 5 stars Love ‘em,28 Oct 2011
This review is from: Audio-Technica ATH M50 – Headphones ( ear-cup ) (Electronics)

Very comfortable with large sound stage. I haven’t run them much since purchasing them, but the bottom end sounds very deep. I’m not sure yet whether the low frequencies are exaggerated or I’m just hearing stuff that I wasn’t able to hear on my previous phones. I’m going to have fun finding out though!