When approaching the sound design for The Charm of Preparedness, it was clear to me after reading the script that these characters are archetypes with clear motivations and relationships with each other. Along with dialogue and a plot that seems reminiscent of any classic 80’s movie like The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The director of the show chose to not take the show too seriously, acknowledging that these characters are very much in a ridiculous situation and that's where the comedy truly comes from. With this in mind I decided that the musical soundscape of the play would be primarily 80s music. This kind of music evokes nostalgia that these kinds of stories bring but can also bring some on the nose comedy to certain scenes and also subtle foreshadowing and complex narratives to others. The sound effects of the world also followed a sense of non-realism, acknowledging that this is a show that is clearly not to be taken seriously and that the audience should have fun. One other thing that influenced the soundscape was the fact that the director is a big fan of this kind of music, so I felt it fit both her directorial style and who she is as a person along with the show.
For Preshow we wanted there to be an overall fun energy in the house. We wanted the audience to know exactly what they were getting into. I wanted to give my assistant designer, Addison McGrath, the task of picking out the pre show music as a way to help her feel more involved in the creative process. My assistant designer picked out all pre show songs with my approval. Short clips of each song can be heard below.
There are two scenes that utilize tennis sound effects, the very first scene and the very last scene. I created the overall sound effect by taking a video I found of someone playing tennis and clipping the audio just enough to where you can only hear the ball being hit and the ball being fired as well as the ball hitting the fence.
Scene 5 Ambience
Throughout the play there are scenes that take place in a café. These scenes have no dialogue which is perfect for music to set the tone. Scene 5 is the first and here we are first introduced to the character of Greta. We see Nick to the side looking on and we see that he obviously has been doing this for a while. I wanted to establish Greta as the clear love interest as well as show Nicks infatuated love for Greta right out of the gate. "Brandy You're A Fine Girl" was perfect for it's laid back feel and created a tone of warmth and comfort for the scene. To help the music in these café scenes feel like a part of the world we placed a speaker behind the café section of the stage and muffled the songs to make it seem like it was coming from inside the café and to help it feel farther away.
Scene 7 Ambience
The second café scene is scene 7 and that is when we see Nick get confronted by Ginger as she snatches Nicks binoculars that he is using to spy on Greta and walks away flipping him off in the progress. To show this more aggressive scene and Nicks frustration I used "Rich Girl" as it could be more scene as an inaudible attack against Ginger by Nick. This also seconds as somewhat of a theme for Ginger herself as she is a sorority girl just taking life as it comes without any real plan and doesn't seem to understand the consequences of her actions.
Scene 9 Ambience
During the third café scene, Nick is once again spying on Greta but his friend Tim comes along and grabs him and forces him to come with him to the "doctor" which is just Tariq's office. For this scene I wanted to foreshadow the confrontation that was coming in the next scene between Nick and Tariq since they both love Greta. What better song to express jealousy then "Jessies Girl".
The Chair Ballet
In Scene 10, Nick is being dragged to the “doctor's” office (which is just Tariqs office) by Tim after Tim finds out that Nick “borrowed” Greta's hat that she left behind during the first Cafe scene. After sitting in the office for a few seconds they start to break into some sort of “Office Chair Ballet” to the muzak playing in the office, so I needed a song that could be a ballet but also still fit the design. We finally came across an instrumental version of “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago. The song creates this atmosphere of a classical ballad while also fitting within the style of the overall design. The song slowly fades in as the characters start to move to the muzak and gets louder as it progresses and the choreography starts and the lights begin to change. The choreography goes to the beats of the song until Tariq enters and the song is cut off comically with a record scratch.
Scene 12 Ambience
In Scene 12, Nick is alone and tracing the outlines of his feet practicing his waltz and doesn't even notice as Greta walks by so he’s just too late to try to say something to her. Other than the chair ballet, this is the only other time in which the music is not a part of the world itself. The reason we did this is so that the scene stands out on its own. After being prescribed Prozac by Tariq to hopefully cause Nick to fall out of love with Greta, things only grow worse and Nick starts to think that there is no way that he’ll ever have a chance with Greta. The song “Easy” by Commodores evokes a mellow and laid back vibe but also creates a tone of sadness and longing given the context of the scene. We can clearly understand how Nick is feeling because of the song and it causes the audience to feel for Nick and sympathize with his wants.
Scene 15 Ambience
During scene 15 we find ourselves in a local bar with Ginger and Drew. Drew is unsuccessfully trying to flirt with Ginger even though Ginger hoped to do this to deliberately make Tariq jealous which isn't working either. I chose "Is This Love" because the song has a romantic tone yet there obviously is nothing romantic about the situation. This amplifies the comedy of the scene while also doubling as some sort of longing song for Ginger when it comes to Tariq. The song was panned to the bar section of the stage and lowered in volume to help it feel like a part of the world like the café scenes music.
Scene 19 Ambience
During Scene 17, Tim finds out that Tariq has been planning this preparedness drill for the school just so he can profess his love for Greta and that it is all a ruse. Despite his disappointment, Tim still plans on putting on the biggest drill ever, hoping that it will be his big break as a Theatre Artist. During Scene 19, Tim comes rushing on stage with a huge roll of caution tape and begins putting it all around the set. This is the most hyped we’ve seen Tim and he runs around like he’s in an action movie, rolling and jumping over stuff. I wanted to pick the most 80’s action movie style song I could possibly think of to really recreate the adrenaline that Tim is feeling in this moment. “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins was a no brainer since it was featured in Top Gun. The song immediately exudes an energy that is only matched by Tim, and it amplifies the comedy tenfold by underscoring the ridiculousness of the situation.
Scene 21 Ambience
The fourth and final café scene finds us yet again as Nick is watching Greta and this time is trying to hype himself up to speak to her. In the act he falls and Greta notices and comes over to him. I purposely picked "Time After Time" because this time it's a woman singing which means the perspective has shifted to Greta. We now hear her inner monologue now as she expresses her want to love someone as well. The song also expresses a sense of wanting to be there for someone no matter what which is what both these characters crave. The moment is also comedic in nature since after Nick falls the song is cut off once again by a record scratch
There are a couple times in the fourth café scene where Greta's phone rings. As a little fun detail we decided to have fun with the ringtone and made it a looped instrumental version of Kim Possible's theme. We thought it would be a cute reference since both Greta and Kim are redheads with a passion for helping and saving people just in different ways.
Scene 22 Initial Sound Effects
In the beginning of Scene 22 we see Tim readying up for the Preparedness Drill. He points out and up into the audience to cue different sounds. In this moment the audience gets a taste of what's about to happen. We hear Artillery Shells, Explosions, and a horse? The audience can definitely tell that Tim went overboard.
The Preparedness Drill
During the Scene 22, the preparedness drill finally occurs… and it’s utter chaos. Tim goes all out on the sound effects for the drill, perhaps a little too much. We wanted there to be a continuous cacophony of sounds occurring throughout the scene to help keep the intensity and drive high throughout the scene. These sounds are very clearly over the top and even taken from video games that Tim might play. The scene itself is all over the place and we wanted the soundscape to match that energy. The effects started really loud and bombastic in the beginning of the scene but was then lowered so as not to overpower the dialogue
The full drill sound effect utilizes:
Ambient distant gunfire
Mortar shells flying and exploding
Halo CE assault rifle fire and plasma grenade explosions
Turret and LMG gunfire
For Curtain Call I wanted a song that basically wraps up the experience of the show and the characters and really the direction of the play itself. The play ends with basically everything back to normal yet we just went through a roller-coaster of emotions in just a couple scenes. "It's The End Of The World And We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" kind of speaks for itself. In the end, no matter what we just "go back to normal" which I feel this song personifies.
Director - Michelle Elliot Winchester
Asst. Director - Brynn Yarham
Stage Manager - Ann Rapp
Asst. Stage Managers - Ariyana Johnson & Ana Pultz
Nick - Cameron Smith
Tim - Will Griffin
Tariq - Dakota Nelleson
Ginger - Emily Kemp
Greta - Rhi Conry
Drew - David Tuttle
Shachie - Bonnie Juene
Photographer - Tim Barcus
Graphic Designer - Kayla Decker
Scenic Designer - Brad M. Carlson
Lighting Designer - Molly Garrison
Asst. Lighting Designers - Alex Barge & Rob Garner
Projections Designer - Zac O'Keefe
Costume Designer - Abby Mueller
Hair & Makeup Designer - Theresa Mae Dawson
Props Designer - Brandi Hipkins
Asst. Sound Designer - Addison McGrath
Production Manager - Kelly Decker
Asst. Production Manager - Genesis Sanchez