Monday, January 11, 2016

Liz Swados

Liz Swados is dead.

You'll notice a bit of a gap in her resume in the above-linked obituary. I worked with her on a couple of those gaps.

Back in the day when I was a lowly sound operator/sound mixer at the Public Theater, organizing a union by day and working on plays and musicals at night, I got put on a Liz Swados show after a week in the shop. They needed someone to mix a new musical she was putting up about Jonah and the Whale. It was all electronic keyboards (which was a mess which we'll get to later), two women and a man on stage with some big "whale bones" in the theater. Um. The upstairs theater on the left (or north) side of the building. I forget what that's called.
Anyway, Liz took an instant dislike of me.

Which is too bad because I kinda liked the show. But the two keyboardists were sort of all-over-the-place in volume and the show had dynamics issues. Also, there was no sound designer assigned to the show so we were using some very old-timey Sennheiser wireless (which actually, when you could get them to work, sounded quite good.)

In addition, Joe Papp really hated her show. At least that's what the word was among the crew and administration. He thought it was just childish garbage but he was going to "teach her a lesson" by having it open so she could read the critics tear it apart. Oddly (and I was out of the show and working on another show by this point) the critics didn't really hate the show that much. They didn't love it. But Wolf was coming in with a super-sold-out show a Zora Neal Hurston plays that was going to run for like 6 months, so Liz' show got the boot anyway.

The arrangements were... loose. And mixing electronic keyboards is a mess in the best of circumstances (which is why most keyboardists mix themselves). 

Then a couple years later I got an emergency last-minute call to come help a show that was touring around NYC schools and was having terrible sound problems. I got there, fixed the problems -- only to realize that ha HA! It was a Liz Swados show. I have no idea if she remembered who I was. 

Years after that, when we were producing Apostasy I got a cassette in the mail from her -- obviously something she sent out to every producer who had a project listed in the Hollywood Report -- looking for composing work for film.

And that's all I know about that.

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