As we gear up for the LDI Show, we’re profiling speakers in our Sound Tracks series of panels aimed at live sound engineers. This week we’re pleased to introduce you to Abe Jacob, who will be participating in “A Fireside Chat With Abe and Jonathan,” alongside fellow veteran sound designer Jonathan Deans.
Abe Jacob is a legendary sound designer for theatre and opera, with Broadway credits that include Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line, Pippin, Chicago, The Who’s Tommy, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dancin’, Cats, Evita, and other seminal shows. He got his start in San Francisco mixing sound for iconic artists of the ’60s including Jimi Hendrix, The Mamas and the Papas, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, and he designed the sound system for the Monterey Pop Festival.
In 2008, the USITT published The Designs Of Abe Jacob, which chronicles Jacob's legendary career.
Sarah Jones: Tell me how you got your start in theatre sound design.
Abe Jacob: As a child actor, I learned of my interest in theatre. And as a pianist who never wanted to practice, I knew I would never be very good, so I went on to the next best thing: sound for theatre and music.
SJ: What drives your passion for theatre sound?
AB: Live theatre is a singular kind of experience, and sound is a major part of that experience. There is nothing like the reaction of an audience to a special moment in your production, whether sound, or lighting, or scenery, or even the performance itself. You can’t get that at the movies or through television or home music systems.
SJ: Can you give us a taste of what attendees can expect to learn in your panel?
AB: I hope that the sound fireside chat with Abe Jacob and Jonathan Deans will be an informal and interactive conversation; we’ll discuss our past, present, and future thoughts and ideas, from our experiences in sound design.
SJ: What new theatre sound technologies are you excited about these days?
AB: I find that I rely more on the traditional technologies, which have served all of us so well in the past. Most “new” technologies are really different editions of what already exists.
SJ: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing theatre sound engineers today?
AB: How to deal with the possible elimination of radio frequency bands, which may bring about real problems for live entertainment.
SJ: Care to share a story about one of your most memorable gigs?
AB: The time I was going from Chicago to A Chorus Line and from Bob Fosse to Michael Bennett, in the space of a month. I’ll tell you more about that in our talk.
SJ: What’s on your Vegas bucket list?
AB: Maybe to take in one of “the shows.”
To learn more about pro audio workshops, panels, and events at LDI, visit http://www.ldishow.com.
Sarah Jones is a writer, editor, and content producer with more than 20 years' experience in pro audio, including as editor-in-chief of three leading audio magazines: Mix, EQ, and Electronic Musician. She is a lifelong musician and committed to arts advocacy and learning, including acting as education chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy, where she helps develop event programming that cultivates the careers of Bay Area music makers.