A poll for live-theater goers: Do mike wearing performers bother you?

All you people complaining about how kids these days need to learn to project: Are you talking about musicals or straight plays? Because I totally agree with you if you’re talking about plays, but in a musical it just isn’t (usually) possible, and that has something to do with the direction musical theatre has been taking the last twenty years or so. Yes, maybe, maybe they should be able to project over a 20-piece orchestra playing Oklahoma or something, but there’s no way one person is going to be heard over a 5-piece rock band armed with electric guitars and towers of amplifiers. And, honestly, I wouldn’t want them to try. Crank up the volume and turn that mother out!

But of course if you’re talking about a small house and a light orchestra in a softer show, then yes, actors do need to learn how to project without screaming. But it should be on a case-by-case basis, IMO.

I take your point about projecting over a rock show-- sure, it matters how the music is written. Cole Porter is written to be sung over, while Andrew Lloyd Webber is not. And for that matter, the single best use of microphones I’ve ever seen was in Jesus Christ, Superstar because it’s a rock opera, and rock music uses microphones, so the sound difference doesn’t bother me. But using microphones in Oklahoma grates because that’s not a genre written for microphones.

And sometimes it really is a stretch for an actor to project over an orchestra. However, when the actor actually projects anyway and lets the microphone cover the difference, it’s not too bad. When the actor just sings quietly and lets the microphone do all the work, it sounds like hell.

Back in college (I guess this was '95 or '96) I went to Shakespeare in the Park’s production of The Tempest starring Patrick Stewart as Prospero. Just before his big speech in the last act. "… But this rough magic I here abjure, … " Stewart signaled to the sound guy, with his fingers he made a quick “cut” motion across his throat. The sound guy cut his mike, and his un-amplified voice completely filled the outdoor amphitheater. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

The real pros don’t need no mikes. :wink:

That was Lt. Hurwitz you were listening to.

Ethel Merman was swell, she was great.

I voted that it doesn’t bother me at all, but it depends on the venue and type of performance. Last summer I went to see a satge comic and absolutely opted for the headset so I could hear him more clearly. The acoustics there are awful and I sometimes have a hard time hearing performers anyway.

OTOH, I’ve conducted some operas. The idea of miking the performers always came up, and I always flatly refused it. I guess I’m more of a purist in that regard.

I ran the soundboard and assisted with setting up mics for productions when I was taking classes for my theater minor.

It’s not hard to hide mics in the props on stage. Tape one under a table, in a bucket of flowers etc. Our directors (theatre arts teachers) didn’t want to see wires or mics. I see little need to strap a mic on an actors head in live theater.

We didn’t even mic actors in our smaller theater in the round. The audience was up close to the stage.

Word. A live performance is different from an electronically-processed one.