Open auditions for Dancing at Lughnasa, by Brian Friel
What was your first connection to Pentacle Theatre?
I had been working at Brownell Sound in Portland since 1992, and one of our installers was Dan Hallberg. I knew Dan was involved with Pentacle, but I never gave it much thought. At some point though, Dan gave me a call, as he was in need of some wireless gear. I was able to help out, and it turned into a regular event for a Pentacle musical.
But my first official connection was for Mary Poppins. Dan was unavailable, and the theater needed help migrating the wireless systems to Central High School and back after the production.
What is your background?
I was raised in the small town of Condon, Oregon, in north central Oregon, 37 miles south of the Columbia River. My father taught at the high school, my mother worked for the school district as a graphic artist. Both parents played music, so I started trying to play at an early age. Besides singing in choir from the first grade, I began trumpet in 6th grade. I also had a trio garage band, we mostly played for our own amusement.
At 15 I got a gig with our area’s country band. This required joining the Musician’s Union, and getting a sign off from the judge so I could play in bars. We played many a county fair, rodeo, and Elks Club, of which I have fond memories. I was quite involved in music during high school, and as a senior also playing in a trio with our music teacher, which was quite fun. For the most part our school and town supported whatever we came up with.
After high school I tried a bit of college at Mt. Hood Community College, but hated the politics between departments. I moved to the Willamette Valley for the opportunity of more gigs, doing a stint at the Hong Kong Restaurant in Dallas from 1981-83, singing, playing guitar, mandolin, fiddle, piano, and trumpet. In 1983, I moved to LA to further my audio education. I attended The Institute of Audio Video Engineering, located in Music Lab Recording in Hollywood (yep. The furthest west edge of Hollywood. Across the street was Silver Lake). While attending school I got a job at the studio, working my way up from night desk jockey to a house engineer. This was during the big hair days of rock and roll, and it was a blast to live in LA during this time.
Click here to learn what happened next and how Michael will spend the summer of 2017!
I moved back to Oregon in late 1986, played more music, met my wife, and married in 1988. During this time I started taking singing lessons from a retired teacher/european opera star. It was something that would change my life. Besides teaching singing, she taught me many of the life-lessons that I use everyday for my music and audio. She was an angel.
1990 was a big year, as I got picked up by a band out of Dallas, Texas. Bigger gigs, and touring on a bus. We moved to Texas in January of 1991, loved the people and the food. Not so much the tornado warnings. I had plans to try to move on to Nashville, but as fate would have it, the birth of our older son, Aaron, on November 30, 1991, was a month early, and I saw that as a sign to move back to be around family. In reality, he probably saved me the severe hardship and heartache of trying to make it in Nashville.
So back to Oregon in 1992, and I started working at Brownell Sound in Portland. Again, being in the right place at the right time, I moved into the speaker repair tech position. This year will mark the 25th year of speaker reconing and repair. I love it. When I moved to Inner Sound in 2006, I added to my menu electronic repairs to guitar amps, keyboards, mixing boards, etc. I also started into guitar repair, mostly to keep up with my own instruments.
As for music, I was with The McKenzie River Band from 1993 to 2004, a successful country band in the Portland area.
It was about the end of 2015 that I got a call from South Salem High School to help with a production. It quickly snowballed into assisting Howard Street Charter School and Children’s Educational Theatre. And a call from Dan Hallberg, this time to directly help with Pentacle Theatre. This summer I will be on staff at CET, which I’m very excited about!
That’s the short version.
What are your passions?
To me, audio makes the world go ’round, whether it be music, sound reinforcement, SFX for theater and movies, or just being out in nature. There is something magical about getting a group of people together and creating a moment with sound.
I am very passionate in helping our schools, as there is such a shortage of musical and audio outlets for them. We need to apply the same amount of time, effort, and money that is put towards sports to be put towards the arts.
I also detest any type of musical prejudice, whether it be how the band is dressed, the genre of music they are performing, any of it. Listen with an open mind.
What are your goals as Pentacle sound chair?
It would be fantastic to go through a production and have all the audio gear we have at our disposal work as it should. We need to have plans for replacing/upgrading gear in place. I would like to have the organization to a point that anyone with an audio background could come in and use the gear that is needed for a production. I would also like to have a network with our school district to teach audio throughout the district so that there would constantly be young people coming up able to help us out.
What are your accomplishments thus far?
So far, it’s to get the wireless systems and actors’ mics inventoried and all repaired. And, to get the audio wiring out of the lighting grids. We’re working our way through replacing a failed media computer (we have two media computers for producing sound effects for every production.) We’ve put into place a plan to update our media computers on a regular basis, hopefully to keep this from happening again.
What are your other interests?
I’m at a stage in my life where I want to see opportunities available to our students that I can provide by giving of myself. Not only helping with SSHS, Howard Street, and Children’s Educational Theatre, I began mentoring last summer with a graduate of SSHS at his church. I have a really hard time turning down a call for help.
What is your favorite part about working back stage?
As long as I can remember, I’ve always liked the production side of the arts. It’s like the Wizard of Oz. It takes a good team of people behind the scenes, hopefully I’m one of them.
Do you work with other theaters?
I started being involved with Pentacle about the time I was called in to South Salem High School in 2015. Previously I had never done any work with a theater, other than repairing gear.