Three More Kids
Mae and Gooper are supposed to have five kids, a fact that is mentioned a number of times in the show. We only cast two kids (the oldest of the five) so I recorded two younger kids for a number of sound effects including those above, found some sounds for the final kid, and played them through an offstage speaker. The actors backstage next to the speaker would sing or chant or shriek along with the sound effects in those instances, helping with the illusion. (programming in QLab 3 excerpt shown below)
One of the most challenging parts of this show was to create a believable thunderstorm that underscores an entire scene. This effect was achieved by placing speakers by the upstage wall behind the cyc, pointing upward, layering a number of different rain and thunder sounds together in QLab, and adjusting relative volumes and fade times (and cutting some sounds altogether) during rehearsals until it sounded just right. Specific cue lines were carefully chosen for each thunder sound so they seemed natural rather than punctuating the dialogue, but wouldn't drown out soft dialogue. I then gave the lighting designer (Jim Eischen) the thunder cue lines so he could make lighting flashes on the cyc before the thunder sounds. (programming in QLab 3 shown below)
Other Specific Sound Effects
Played through the speakers upstage behind the cyc to make it sound like they were being set off on the lawn. Modified from a found sound.
Used for the sound of Brick taking a shower at the top of the show. Faded up under the preshow music, played through an offstage speaker in the "bathroom".
An excerpt from "Sing Sing Sing" by Benny Goodman (to contrast with the silky smooth jazz in preshow) briefly played through a hidden speaker in the onstage stereo system.
Played from an offstage speaker in the "hall". Looped under dialogue until Big Mama goes offstage to answer it.
Ambience Throughout Show
One goal of this design was to create a subtle sense of place using sound. These sounds were used to underscore nearly the entire show, with changes in levels from scene to scene. As the show takes place over the course of a day, there are more birds than cicadas in the early scenes and vice versa later in the show.
Preshow & Intermission Music
Worked with the director to carefully choose the style of music: Period smooth, instrumental jazz. Played the music through various speakers but mostly through hidden stereo system speaker. Example: