SFX and ShowBuilder Simply Love Janis
By Eric Stahlhammer
After playing the Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, “Love, Janis” is currently rocking the Hanna Theater in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. In this new rock musical, the life and music of Rock-N-Roll icon Janis Joplin explodes onto the stage.
“Love, Janis” goes behind the music and offers a glimpse at the soul of a legend both through the letters she wrote home and the songs she made famous. Classics like “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Piece of my Heart”, and “Mercedes Benz” come to life in this hauntingly intimate portrayal inspired by the best-selling book by Laura Joplin
Serving as backup to the legendary singer is the dynamic sound duo of SFX and ShowBuilder. SFX acts as the manager, working behind the scenes creating the total sound environment of the show. ShowBuilder acts a “roadie” for the production, keeping track of every mic, every cable and all the necessary paperwork for the show.
Sound Designer Eric Stahlhammer took a few moments from his busy schedule to describe how SFX and ShowBuilder help make Love, Janis one incredible show.
“The current incarnation of Love, Janis is using SFX for audio playback. There are several sequences in the show that could not be possible without a second operator if it were not for SFX’s ability to play layers on layers of sound all from one easy button (or footswitch in this case). SFX enables the audience to be immersed in a sonic environment with generally little hassle.
The ability to manipulate the playback of files in an accurately reproducible mode enables the engineer to execute the critical playback portions of the show with little thought or effort during the actual run of the show. With this show, there is a very dynamic, live, six piece rock band on stage, Bass Guitar, Keyboards, Drums, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar, Trumpet, Sax, and the all important lead singer (“Janis Joplin”).
This rock show is mixed with the theatrical telling of the expressive letters Janis wrote to her parents during her development into an international pop star. The dynamic nature of the show requires as much focus on the finesse of the songs and scenes without having to be caught up in the execution of cues. SFX really delivers on this show and pays for itself many times over. The power of SFX helps create a totally immersive aural environment that allows a show of this nature to really shine.
ShowBuilder has provided a means of streamlining the design process of Love, Janis. The current incarnation of this rock show in a theater, has been bouncing between theaters and companies essentially doing transfers from one to the other. ShowBuilder has provided a means to track the gear that the show requires in an efficient and organized manor. The way ShowBuilder automatically creates and updates lists has been fundamental in making this show move from one place to another.
Each time we move theaters, I just reassign where each piece of gear is coming from, print the list for each theater or rental house and nothing gets left out of the move. The ability to have all of my information in one place has allowed a streamlined way to advance show information to the new engineer and techs helping to generate better synergy.
One of the greatest “built in” features of ShowBuilder is that the design team for ShowBuilder listens to us users and they have added a few little features or expanded functionality to include things that we thought would make our lives a little easier.
There are several options available for keeping track of sound designs but I haven’t found one that works as well for me as ShowBuilder.”