On The Verge

Viterbo University Weber Center for the Performing Arts

Director Rick Walters' approach to this production was taken directly from a statement made by playwright, Eric Overmyer "This is a play about the imagination, and about theatricality. It should be conveyed imaginatively and theatrically, not literally-in other words, with light, movement and sound." As a sound designer, I have encountered only a handful of projects as complicated as On The Verge.

In the end the production involved well over 90 cues play backed using SFX6.0 (software I had not used in a number years) in brand new space with limited equipment.

We decided half way through rehearsals to record all of the titles included in the text and to use the voices of the three actresses. By this point in the process, each actress had a solid grasp on her character and the recordings were done as the character. The recordings were then shared with the director and choices were made for each title, some requiring more editing then others.

In Overmyer's script, the character of Nicki plays the piano and sings several songs at the Paradise. Unfortunately, for our production there was neither space for a piano nor an actor who could play it. I researched the required songs, found sheet music when possible and then met with a pianist and the director to record the necessary sections. While in the session, we also recorded several options to be used as accents for ladies entrances and exits during the scene. With a live microphone, a bit of rehearsal and some help from the lighting designer, the club moments were a success.

Since the show is a long trek through Terra Incognita, the list of ambient environments and spot effect cues is long. Everything from a quiet beach, to howling mountain winds, to a creaking rope bridge, to a Harley were involved in the soundscape for the journey. Perhaps the most complex sequence was the one in which the jungle attacks the explorers, who fit back with a precisely choreographed battle of umbrellas.

From a sound designer's perspective, given the limited speakers and restricted speaker placements available, the production was a successful opening of a new theater for the Viterbo Theatre department and a terrific challenge!

Example Cues


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