Pirates of Penzance

Behind the Pirates…

by Shelley Graham, dramaturg

In the program for Highlights from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, we include a short study guide to learn more about our production team’s perspective on creating this unique show. You can download that guide here:PenzanceStudyGuide.

And because the sound design and audio engineering were essential to this production’s success, I reached out to our audio engineer, Troy Sales, to see what his thoughts were on the process.  Here is what Sales had to say about this experience.

One of the challenges was to efficiently record the whole cast, 4 or less people at a time. My goal was to help them sound like they were all on the stage together, but yet each occupying a different spot on that stage. The unique solution was careful multitracking to make sure they were in sync with each other and choosing to use a brand new virtual mic technology. This virtual mic was used to record everyone and then later during mixdown was used to change the distance to that mic and change the mic type to place them on the stage accordingly. By only using one mic to record everyone, we could quickly record cast members without having to change mics in between solo, duet, and ensemble performances.  If someone’s voice didn’t sound right on one mic during mixdown, I could try 34 other virtual mics to bring out the best in their performance and placement. I ended up using 5 different mics and uncountable “distance to the mic” settings.
Even though the students stepped up and did a marvelous job during the recordings, there were some things that needed to be fixed. One challenge happened when [music director] Korianne [Johnston] and I needed to re-record a soloist because he was talk-singing and sang quite a few melodic words off-pitch. The soloist caught covid and we couldn’t re-record him. So, we leveraged modern technology and were able to pitch correct his original recording note-by-note.
There were many other challenges, but each unique challenge was overcome. It was a wonderful experience and I learned so much.

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