LEHMAN COLLEGE, BRONX, NY- During my internship with the multimedia center at Lehman College, I got to work live sound for a theater production. The biggest surprise was that it was for the Lehman College production of one of my favorite musicals, In the Heights. For those of you who are not familiar with the musical, In the Heights is the three-day story of a Latinx community living in Washington Heights. Although the characters are away from their native countries, they search for their own definition of “home”.
The actors were talented and patient with me and the sound crew when it came to making the show sound as best as possible. With my supervisor, Angela Piva and another audio intern, Vanessa Villalobos, we created the sound effects for the musical using Avid Pro Tools 10. Despite my experience with audio, using a soundboard was completely new to me. It was not difficult to figure out the individual channels, turn on the house monitors in the Lovinger Theater, and figure out what microphones to use for the band (dynamic and boom mics). I learned how to match frequencies on wireless mics, mic a band, send signals through an amp so it can be heard through the monitors, mic the actors, and preset the EQ/ gain levels for each individual voice.
Not everything was all fun and games. Tech rehearsals were long, and during one of the shows, a lot of things went wrong. I learned from my mistakes with the help of some audio experts and took notes on how to fix feedback issues and work with the acoustics of the theater. Along with the audio experience, I gained knowledge of all the hard work that goes into producing a musical. Production meetings were effective in getting all departments together to discuss what tasks needed to be completed each week.
As opening day got closer, I reviewed all the audio techniques I learned from Hostos with Angela. Relationships were built with the cast and crew, who were amazing individuals. There were posters all over campus, and even though my name was backwards, it felt nice to see it there. I was a part of something big and that made me feel both nervous and excited. I had to do live sound in front of a lot of people. Being a DJ had gotten me used to handling music with big crowds, but there were still moments when I got cold feet. Opening night was one of them.
The seats filled up and I reminded myself to do the best I can. The cast was counting on me and the sound crew. The lights dimmed. I took a deep breathe, looked at Vanessa and said, “let’s do this!”
The musical was a big success the five nights it ran. Two of the performances sold out. The lighting blended well with the set pieces. The cast gave it their all. Lin-Manuel Miranda would have been proud of us. The audience laughed with Sonny and Graffiti Pete, paid attention to Abuela Claudia and Usnavi’s “Hundreds of Stories”, enjoyed the gossip at the salon from Daniela, Carla, and Vanessa, and related to the situation with the Rosario family and Benny. They raised their flags (in spirit) and got to find the true definition of home. From where I was standing, Piragüero always came in at the right moments. He was that one character that captured the hearts of many.
Last updated: September 6, 2021