by Claudia Wang
Ninety-six condoms. I bought. Ninety. Six. Condoms. Trojans. Unlubricated. To protect the mic packs from actor sweat. In high school we also hated sticky packs, but this was just going too far. Do you KNOW how hard it is to squeeze a condom over those things? They're not exactly the size the makers had in mind. And the look that CVS lady gave me! I'll never be able to show my face around there again.
...Oh, whatever. At least my Snap Story got a kick out of it.
Hi! I'm Claudia, the show's mic operator. I sit in the little booth we built smack in the middle of the audience, so anyone caught texting during the show WILL get something thrown at them. I'm watching you...
Most people think that actors manage their own mics, but it couldn't be further from the truth. As the mic board operator, I do all the muting, adjusting, and equalizing in the show. I assign mics based on scene placement and tell the actors who to share packs with. We're splitting ten mics among seventeen singing roles for this show, so "tight shift" doesn't even begin to cover it. Some of the mic switches have to be so fast that we have someone helping actors change in the wings.
It's a lot to keep track of. I raise and lower volumes all the time during the show, depending on how loud the actor is. Elle's actually a pretty quiet singer, while Emmett projects so much he probably doesn't even need the mic. Callahan's bass input goes way down because of how deep his voice is, and the Delta Nus' treble levels stay at a constant low so their squealing doesn't blow out the speakers.
Mics that get too close to each other cause feedback. Mics on dancing roles get taped down. Mics on costume changes have all buttons locked, and mics that stay with one person the whole show (Elle) get their own special settings.
It's a lot of fun. I even get a headset! So when you do come to the show, say hi to the weird techie in the booth behind you. I'll might be too stressed to hear you, but if I do look up, I'll be sure to wave back!