Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Company: Studio Tenn Theatre Company
Director: Benji Kern
Role: Sound Designer
Time: December 2019
Cinderella was my first time sound designing a musical. The design for this show was not as straight forward as it might have seemed, as the production itself was highly conceptualized and took on a more ambiguous time period. The sound world was set more modern and I used a gramophone as my main inspiration when building this world. Due to this, it took on a 1920s “Gatsby” feeling. Salon music from the 1920s and 1930s set the tone leading into Studio Tenn’s Cinderella.
Due to the set being a blank canvas, we used sound to set the scene when music was not being used. This was also a collaboration with the projection designer on what images he was using on the small projection wall in the back of the set. I worked to create scenes that took place in the castle garden, at the Stepmother’s manner, and in the village square.
The biggest challenge was creating the atmosphere of the Fairy Godmother and the transformation scene. We wanted her entrance and magical sequence to be celestial and cosmic but also match her personality which was fun and quirky. I used a couple different sounds to build the world of the Fairy Godmother. Layers of sounds were used so we could “feel” the magic in a low end rumble while also having the twinkle you would imagine when it comes to magic.
In My Own Little Corner
The goal of the animal sounds was to create a natural dialogue between Cinderella and the sound effects. We wanted the animals to have distinct personalities so it was like the mouses were giving advice and each sound had its own feeling. Each mouse squeak, meow, and dove coo was individually edited together to create the conversation.
The Transformation Scene
This scene was the hardest to create and time out in the whole musical. The two main parts that were built were the Fairy Godmother’s entrance which uses thunder and some twinkle to accent her entrance through smoke and lights. The second part was the transformation scene. I used sound that varied between a low rumble so the audience can “feel” the scene along with the Godmother’s signature “twinkle magic” and some celestial sound noises that were all timed to choreography of the transformation. The carriage turning into a pumpkin and the dress changing each had their own sounds.
The garden scene is one example of the various ambiences that were used to set the locations of the scene. The correlated to Cinderella and the Prince’s time in the garden during the ball. It matched the fountain image projected onto the LED wall. Some other ambience that were used were a fireplace and owl to show that it is night and the village square.