Once in a Lifetime

I designed the sound of this play. It's about the dawning of the Talkies in Hollywood, and as such was full of sounds and audio-based jokes. There was also an extremely large cast, all of whom had speaking roles. Given the limited quantity of body mics avaliable, this required carefully planned changes backstage and attentive mixing.


Director: David Grapes II
Scenic Design: J. David Blatt
Projection Design: Jennie Fischer
Lighting Design: Austin Bell
Costume Design: Blair Belt
Photography: David Grapes II

At one point in the show, a character is opening various doors in a movie studio as he rushes around while monologuing. From each door comes a different funny sound effect. I made a wide array of very short cues for this scene, thinking that perhaps each door could have a random effect so the actor would be authentically surprised each time. The componenets included various old movie references, including the Wilhelm scream, Tarzan tell, and a horn reminiscent of Harpo Marx.

The show begins with our protagonists in a New York apartment. I created an ambiance track with the noises of traffic, an old radiator, neightbors walking around, and so on.

The middle scene of this show takes place in the busy reception room of the movie studio. I created an ambiance here with typewriters, elevator bells, and distant idle chatter to create the sense of a buzz of moviemaking activity. In this sample I also included a barrage of phone rings which occurred at the beginning of the act as the receptionist answers various calls.

The lead characters take a train between New York and Hollywood. This ambiance gave the sense of a steam train travelling through the Dust Bowl.