Mixing is an extremely important aspect of a show's sound. Mixing is much more than simply controlling the volume of microphones; it is an art in itself and has the ability to make or break a performance. My background as a musician has helped me view the sound board as an instrument. That allows me to approach the mix as if I'm part of the orchestra, rather than only a technician. For any musical theatre performance, I always mix line by line.
Puccini's La Boheme was an incredibly fun show to mix. One of the challenges of mixing an opera is making sure that the singers can be heard over the orchestra without letting the audience know that they are wearing microphones. I had to mix this opera very subtly in order to ensure that the voices never sounded artificial or overly reinforced. La Boheme took place in Eisenhower Auditorium, which was the largest venue I had ever mixed.
Connecticut Repertory Theatre produced a concert version of Les Miserables directed by Terrence Mann. It included wireless body mics for the actors as well as 5 wired microphones spaced evenly downstage and 5 monitor wedges. I was the monitor mixer for this production and was in charge of mixing levels onstage for both the five wedges and the monitor speakers for the orchestra.
I had the opportunity to take a mixing masterclass in 2014 at Carnegie Mellon University with the famed mixer Buford Jones. Buford has toured with and mixed for many artists, most notably Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt, and David Bowie. I was fortunate enough to mix a live band with him at USITT a few weeks after the masterclass at CMU.
Photo Credit: Ian Starner
Penn State Centre Stage's Spring Awakening was a fun, yet challenging musical to mix. The cast was equipped with body mics, but pulled out wireless handheld microphones during certain songs throughout the show. I tried to maintain continuity between the sound of their lavalier mics and handheld mics, even when they switched back and forth quickly.
This show also had a wide variety of music: everything from soft acoustic ballads to hard hitting rock numbers. This gave me a great chance to try my hand at mixing very different styles.
Next to Normal
Next to Normal was the first musical that I mixed for Penn State Centre Stage. I used a DiGiCo SD9 as the FOH console.
Here's a brief excerpt from one of the performances of Next to Normal. It was recorded on a Zoom H4N that was sitting at front of house.