Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Entertainment: Hale Centre Theater - "Curtains"

Wow! What a theatrical experience! However… my Tensor Tympani is still in lactic acidosis from the workout.

As soon as the "disclaimer" announcer came on before the curtain went up and was unintelligibly buried behind the over-modulated "background" music — I knew we had drawn the 'punk-rocker' audio man who had blown out his cochlea on heavy-metal.

I just wish that the producer/directors/sound designers (Sally Dietlein/Jennifer Hohl/Dan Morgan) would interject some form of standardization or quality control into their sound design. We go from crack-all-your-fillings in Treasure Island to the magnificent audio of Scarlet Pimpernell and things in-between – all in one Hale Center Theater season.

The Tensor Tympani (TT) is a minuscule muscle next to your eardrum whose job it is to protect your delicate inner-ear bones from loud noises. In a lightening fast reflex to excessive sound, the muscle pulls the malleus medially, tenses the tympanic membrane, dampens vibrations and thereby reduces the amplitude of sounds. And an interesting thing is that, just like Pavlov's dogs, the TT can be "conditioned" to even contract in "anticipation" of a loud noise in some people.

Of course, when the sound gets "dampened" it also gets distorted and sounds "mushy." That's why you often can't understand the words to your kids loud music. And that's what happened every time the chorus got ramped up in this production.

Now the rest of the time it was a great show. Lots of action, lots of staging, lots of well written songs, star quality voices and lots of… cast. Sometimes a bit many to keep track of easily but but not a clinker among 'em. Including the cast member not on the playbill – the THC million dollar stage.

A loud voice cannot compete with a clear voice, even if it's a whisper.”
Barry Neil Kaufmann

We had never seen the show before. Apparently it ran on Broadway with David Hyde Pierce (Frasier's brother Niles) as the detective lead (for which he won a Tony) - and, who it seemed must have been type cast for. Paul Cartwright played the part exceptionally well… and I swear our Saturday performance even had Bett Middler in it!

A great way to end the regular season — I just wish they could figure out some sound pressure measuring device so all the audio performances were the same.


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