Show Business: Static over Theater Sound

Intimacy is fading, but shows are hooked on mikes and speakers

"Speak the speech, I pray you, trippingly from the tongue," Hamlet advised actors. But that was in the days before body mikes, when a performer would be hooted off the stage if the groundlings could not hear what he was saying. Now, thanks to what is euphemistically known as "sound reinforcement," a whisper can carry as far as a shout, and a clear, powerful voice, once mandatory equipment for a stage actor, is almost superfluous. Sound technicians receive prominent billing in Broadway shows, right next to set and costume designers,...

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