Nevin Steinberg of Tony-nominated ACME Sound Partners discusses this year's Broadway Sound Master Classes, which kick off Friday.
LD: You and your team at Acme Sound Partners just received a Tony nomination for Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo for Best Sound Design of Play. What makes this production so special?
Nevin Steinberg: Bengal is a fascinating play by a prolific, entertaining, and, I think, important new American playwright, Rajiv Joseph. The play is at once serious, comedic, ambivalent, and deeply moving. The production is as graceful and intimate as the writing.
LD: Tell us a little about your designs for your most recent projects (Lombardi , Merchant Of Venice, The MotherF***** With The Hat, and Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo), all of which you’ll be discussing at the Master Classes. Was one particularly challenging over another?
NS: Well, they were all three so very different. Lombardi was, of course, in the round which is a unique challenge, and included some exciting historical sound "footage." Merchant was a transfer from Shakespeare in the Park, and so needed a complete re-conception of the sound design for an indoor space and area miking. MotherF***** presented itself as the most traditional of our play sound designs this season with the wonderful addtion of working with the legendary Terrence Blanchard, who composed the original music for the piece. And Bengal was an unusual team effort with Cricket Myers and required body microphones, something that only a few plays use on Broadway.
LD: How do you approach the sound design for a new project? Do you have a specific process?
NS: No specific process, no. Of course, we start with the script and extensive conversations with the director, composers, and other designers. Each project seems to define its own terms, and we try to navigate along the path the production takes us.
LD: Is there any new audio gear you or your colleagues have been particularly excited about?
NS: We're pretty excited about some of the recent loudspeakers that have rolled out but haven't had a chance to use many of them on our projects yet. Perhaps next season!
LD: What is one thing you want the attendees at the BSMC to gain from your session?
NS: We like to impart a sense of the stakes and the unpredictability of the craft in the real-world scenario of Broadway sound design.