Heard in London: Autograph Sound Recording

has supplied the sound rig for Raymond Gubbay’s annual opera-in-the-round series at the Royal Albert Hall. The series opened this year on February 21, with a new production of Carmen. The rig includes a large Meyer Sound loudspeaker system, comprising more than 60 UM-1s for vocals and two arrays of MSL-4s and PSW-4s for the orchestra mix, while d&b E3 loudspeakers are located in and under the stage as front fill positions.

Autograph’s nights at the opera continue with Beethoven’s Fidelio, which will be performed in modern dress, by the Birmingham Opera Company live from Aston Hall, a flamboyant Jacobean style mansion built in the 1600s in Birmingham, England. This production will be broadcast live (and clear, thanks to Autograph’s efforts) on BBC Four television at 7pm March 16. Nick Lidster, an Autograph sound designer, will be the production engineer for the broadcast and has chosen to try the new Sennheiser SK5012 transmitter, which is half the size of the well established and original SK50. Nick has also selected his favorite lavalier microphone, the DPA 4060, which he likes for its clarity and resistance to sweat.--Ellen Lampert-Gréaux

Heard On 42nd Street: Christopher D. Buckely has left his position as vp of production and construction for the New 42nd Street redevelopment project, after a seven-year stint in which he supervised such projects as the renovation of the New Victory Theatre and the construction of the new 42nd Street Studio Building (yes, the one with Anne Militello's fabulous colorful light installation on the facade!).

Buckley has gone into "private practice," doing production and performance facility consulting from his home base in Brooklyn, NY. One of his first big projects is the three-floor studio/office complex for Mikhail Baryshnikov Productions, located atop a building on West 37th Street in Manhattan, where developer Alan Shuster is also putting in a group of off-Broadway theatres (a 499-seat house, a 399-seat house, and either two 199s or one 299-seater). "The excavation has been done, and the foundations are going in," says Buckley, who can be reached at 718-789-8169 (fax: 718-789-1023). Ellen Lampert-Gréaux

Seen at the Theatre: Christopher Shinn is a young American playwright who first gained attention at London’s Royal Court Theatre; he specializes in studies of what you might call the dynamics of loneliness, focusing on characters who keep mistaking sex for intimacy. Four, his new work, now at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stage II, is set on the Fourth of July, 1996, in Hartford, CT. June, a young gay male teenager, is on a date with Joe, a middle-aged black American literature professor he met over the Internet. Simultaneously, Joe’s daughter, Abigayle, is out with Dexter, a white homeboy who is far from her equal in intelligence and accomplishment. Shinn has a clinician’s ear for his characters’ half-revealed feelings and, as a result, the play has moments of painful clarity. But once you realize that both couples are on the same track--a sexual encounter followed by emptiness and disappointment--there’s not much to hold your interest, and the author’s sensitivity becomes rather exhausting. Fortunately the entire cast is first-rate, with Keith Nobbs, as June, and Armando Riesco, as Dexter, standing out. The main design aspects are Traci Klainer’s moody, constantly shifting lighting scheme and Paul Adams' highly realistic sound design (an offstage gunshot made me jump). Veronica Worts designed the costumes and Lauren Helpern did the set.

Necessary Targets is the new play by Eve Ensler, whose last work, The Vagina Monologues, has apparently been seen everywhere on the planet. Necessary Targets is not likely to enjoy the same fate; this drama, about two American mental health professionals working with women in war-torn Bosnia, is predictable and cliché-ridden. Shirley Knight plays a psychiatrist who shows up in the refugee camp with a Dior wardrobe, looking for her hotel room; instead, she’s forced to room with Catherine Kellner, a “trauma counselor” who is writing a book about the global exploitation of women. Together they conduct group therapy for violated and displaced Bosnian women, each of who offers up an acting-class-ready monologue about her sufferings. Ensler’s writing is truly shameless, piling on one glibly written breakdown scene after another, without offering any understanding of the horrific political realities of the former Yugoslavia. Jeff Cowie’s set, a bombed-out building, is far more authentic than anything else on stage. There is also very good work from costume designer Susan Hilferty, lighting designer Howell Binkley, and sound designer John Gromada.--David Barbour

Heard from Hollywood: The 2001 awards continue to pile up, as the Art Directors Guild presented their television and movie honors February 23. Moulin Rouge's Catherine Martin won for excellence in production design for a period/fantasy feature, while Aline Bonetto took the contemporary film honors for her work on Amelie. The TV winners are Marcia Hinds, for Six Feet Under; Glenda Rovello, for Will and Grace; William Creber, for the telefilm The Last Brickmaker in America; and Roy Christopher, for the 73rd Annual Academy Awards. Ken Adam received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Earlier last week, the Hollywood Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild also gave out awards. Honorees included Julie Pearce, Randy Westgate, and Selina Jayne, for the contemporary makeup design in Mulholland Drive; Maurizio Silvi, Vincenzo Mastrantonio, and Lesley Vanderwalt, for the period makeup in Moulin Rouge; Naomi Donne and Kate Biscoe for the character makeup in The Royal Tenenbaums; and Rick Baker, Kazuhiro Tsuji, and Toni G., for the special makeup effects in Planet of the Apes. Honored feature hairstylists were Joy Zapata and Linda Arnold, for Legally Blonde; Aldo Signoretti, Ferdinando Merolla, and Giorgio Gregorini, for Moulin Rouge; and Candace Neal, Karen Myers, and Terry Baliel, for A.I. Artificial Intelligence. For a complete list of winners, see this link.

In Oscar news, it was just announced that Academy and Eddy Award winner Ann Roth will design costumes for the March 24 ceremony. Whether that means she will be creating skintight outfits for the Debbie Allen dancers, or busying herself with classing up Cameron Diaz's décolletage, is yet to be determined.

Movie production has continued to pick up in the last two months. After getting the futuristic thriller Minority Report in the can, director Steven Spielberg has started work on Catch Me If You Can, the story of real-life con artist Frank Abagnale, the youngest person to make the FBI's most wanted list for forgery. Leonardo DiCaprio stars, with Tom Hanks cast as the agent pursuing Abagnale. Production designer on the film is Jeannine Claudia Oppewall, costume designer is Mary Zophres, and cinematographer is frequent Spielberg collaborator Janusz Kaminski. DreamWorks will release it at the end of the year…In Twentieth Century Fox's The Sin Eater, Heath Ledger plays a contemporary priest who comes upon the work of the title figure, a member of an ancient Christian order. This Brian Helgeland thriller is being shot in Italy by Nicola Pecorini, and features production design by Miljen Kijakovic and costumes by Caroline HarrisDreamcatcher, a Stephen King-derived thriller from Warner Bros. starring Morgan Freeman, is shooting in Vancouver under Lawrence Kasdan's direction. John Seale has forsaken the next Harry Potter installment to shoot it…Another potentially scary Warners movie, Ghost Ship, directed by former visual effects art director Steve Beck, is shooting in Australia. Gale Tattersall is DP, with production design by Graham 'Grace' Walker.--John Calhoun