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Cricket Myers is still Cricket Myers

July 18, 2011

 Yes, she won a Tony nomination for sound designing Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo on Broadway after two runs in Los Angeles. No, she didn’t win the award. “Thank God,” Myers exclaims. “That stage was huge and intimidating and I don’t belong in a spotlight!” 

Myers was part of the team that director Moises Kaufman insisted accompany the show to New York, a tricky twist given New York producers’ tendencies to hire local talent. “Thankfully Moises was insistent because he wanted my sound cues. I was the only LA-based designer on the show, so the producers ultimately agreed I would come in as a co-designer. That was fine because I kept control over the sound cues and ACME took care of all the equipment.” 

Now that she’s home, no, her rates haven’t gone up, even with 13 Ovation nominations and a Drama Desk Award to her credit. 

“That’s been the challenge,” says Myers over breakfast at a bistro in Eagle Rock. “My clients here were very excited for me but said ‘Oh, we’ll never be able to afford you again, or you’ll be too busy for us little theaters now.’ That was really frightening for me.” 

Myers, who often chuckles, is adamant when she states, “I am a Los Angeles based artist, I live here and I have no intention of moving to New York. I got worried because the companies stopped calling me when I got back. I was afraid the work here would dry up and I would be forced to move!” 

Besides, Myers understands 99 seat theater in Los Angeles. “I made a point of going to the TCG [Theatre Communications Group] conference and Hollywood Fringe to touch base face to face, and just talk to everyone and tell them I’m staying here and that my rates haven’t changed. I know 99 seat theaters aren’t going to get magically rich, so I’m not going to demand more money. I mean I could, but then I’d be working a lot less. For me, the work is about the project.” 

As it turns out, Myers lost money on her Broadway debut. “I had to live and eat in New York for three solid weeks, which is expensive to do. For me it was worth it to get the credit, but it made me broke!” 

Myers rescues and raises bunnies, not tigers

Myers supports herself by designing sound across LA, including two Bengal Tiger runs (Kirk Douglas Theater and Mark Taper Forum). Since 2003, her first professional year out of Cal Arts, she has designed 20-30 shows per year, she figures. A lot of her business comes by way of referrals and repeat customers. 

“When I went back to New York for Bengal Tiger I explained my concept and why I did what I did in my first two productions and the producers were really great. My sound design wasn’t so much underscoring as tonal changes in the air. It was very important for me that the sound come from the characters and their emotional changes. The sound had to relate directly to their emotion, their tension, their stress.” 

She explained to the co-designers from ACME her biggest challenge was to have the sound come from upstage and not from the proscenium or the house. “At the Taper and Kirk Douglas I just hid speakers behind the wall and bounced them off the back. But on Broadway, because we had this massive wall flying out, I couldn’t just put speakers on the ground. So ACME worked with the scenic designer, integrating my speakers inside the wall. It added all this beautiful architecture to the wall, but if you looked closely enough you’d see it was the grill work for my speakers.” 

Myers began college as a physics major. That lasted only a year and she got interested in theater, gaining an interest in stage managing. “But I realized that wasn’t it either.” She applied for grad school to focus on lighting, but an interview at Cal Arts changed her mind. “Jon Gottlieb told me I was a sound designer and I just didn’t know it yet. I said that’s silly because I know nothing about sound but he insisted I had the aesthetic. So I came to Cal Arts and learned what I needed to know.” 

A passionate reader, Myers hears books in her head. “They come alive aurally. A play doesn’t come alive for me until I hear the actors read it.” That’s when her sound cues germinate in her mind. Armed with a huge hard drive with SFX libraries, Myers has a place to start. “I also have a digital recorder in case I need original sound. I rarely take something off a sound effects disk and use it by itself. I usually layer or rearrange or lengthen or shorten sound so each piece is very specific to the play.” 

Just as Cricket is specific to her. “It’s really my birth name. My mother likes to tell people it’s because I was as cute as a bug in a rug when I was born but in reality she had a good friend from high school who was nicknamed Cricket and she really liked it.” 

Her parents were arguing over this name or that. “They just couldn’t settle on one. Suddenly my mom said ‘What about Cricket?’ and my dad said ‘Okay.’ The nurse came in later with the birth certificate and asked if they were ready to fill it out and my mom said, ‘Yes, we’re going to name her Cricket Strother Myers.’ The nurse smiled and said ‘I’ll come back when you’re feeling better’ and left. My dad chased her down the hallway and said they were serious.” 

Legend has it an uncle would stand over her crib and say, “Don’t worry. When you’re 18, we’ll fix it.” She laughs. “People remember me. I thank my parents every day for such an unusual name!” 

Myers has a project lined up at Arena Stage in Washington, DC in October and a couple of others around LA this fall. But there’s always room for more – at her pre-Tony rates. She can be reached at cricketsmyers.com.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kristi C. permalink
    July 18, 2011 11:52 am

    She’s lovely. Thank you.

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