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Phantom Lip-Syncing??
Posted by Citygirl.grace 2012-07-21 19:46:40


I had a friend tell me that he saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway (years and years ago...) and he said that the cast was lip syncing the whole time. I've never heard of this on Broadway. haha Do you think they actually would? Has that been heard of? Or is this friend just making things up? haha


sorry this is random. haha

Phantom Lip-Syncing??
Posted by nicthediva 2012-07-21 19:49:02


The whole cast wouldn't lip synch, god no.

Phantom Lip-Syncing??
Posted by SweeneyPhanatic 2012-07-21 19:52:12


I know the entire title song, during the descent to the Phantom's lair, is pre-recorded because the real Phantom & Christine have to...well, I'm not sure exactly WHAT they're doing, but it involves disappearing through the mirror & getting into the boat off stage while doubles lip-sync on the ramp.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Phantom's voiceovers are pre-recorded, but the only song I know for certain is the one I mentioned above.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by LizzieCurry 2012-07-21 20:04:23


Right. It's not the WHOLE time...

http://www.phantomoftheopera.com/modules/article/view.article.php/c6/17

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by artscallion 2012-07-21 21:48:54


I had heard...can't remember where...that many of the Christines that followed the original, Sarah Brightman, could not hit a few of the high notes that Sarah had. So they used a recording of her hitting them to fill in just those notes.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by CATSNYrevival 2012-07-21 21:53:46


^They don't use a recording of Sarah Brightman hitting the notes, but the last note in the title song is pre-recorded, I assume by each actress who only ever has to hit it once in a studio.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by The Distinctive Baritone 2012-07-22 00:28:26


From what I understand, Christine's pre-recorded high note at the end of the title song is used only as "backups" if the actress is not confident she can do it on a particular night.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by ThankstoPhantom 2012-07-22 00:37:25


For the record, the 'real' Phantom and Christine back on stage on the bridge from SL after the initial cross of the 'bridge doubles' from SR to SL. It is so often said that they reappear on the boat, which is, I assure you, incorrect.

When the show first opened in London back in 1986, the title song was sung live throughout that first year (at least from when the Phantom and Christine were on the boat). The cadenza at the end, whilst definitely in the ranges of the actresses, proved difficult to execute in the desired way on a consistent basis. I've read this numerous times from @rebeccacaine, but she tweets so often that

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-22 01:22:28


I always knew there was something off about the title song, I just didn't know exactly which bits were prerecorded and which ones sung live. The cadenza was always obviously canned since every single Christine I've ever seen does a poor job lip-synching it. It's almost as if they want you to know it isn't live, LOL.

I don't recall ever feeling disappointed that song is mostly prerecorded, and I'm usually staunchly against such practices. I guess it's a fair trade off with the neat staging. Anyone who actually thinks that all of those couples are the same Christine and Phantom that started the song off must truly believe in magic because there's no way they could suddenly appear here and there in an instant. It was always obvious there were doubles involved. I find those who act as if the prerecorded thing is a major scandal amusing, haha. With all that moving around through all that intricate machinery, it makes sense.

I thought I read somewhere that only part of the orchestra is prerecorded and most of it plays live during the title song. Would anyone know exactly which sections of the orchestra play live? At the end of the title song, there's a really awesomely manic string section that I've always hoped was live. I was extremely tempted when I saw the 3rd NT in Costa Mesa back in '08, to peak into the orchestra pit during that song but that would've been hella ghetto, so I didn't, even if the woman in front of me did. I almost asked her at intermission what she saw, but she had down syndrome and--while I've encountered many with the condition who are perfectly capable in many areas--she seemed to have a very advanced case, so I didn't bother her or her family.

Prolly should have asked. Maybe she would have said "Nothing. Absolutely nada! Just a big tape recorderrrr!" :S

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by The Scorpion 2012-07-22 06:09:52


I thought I read somewhere that only part of the orchestra is prerecorded and most of it plays live during the title song. Would anyone know exactly which sections of the orchestra play live? At the end of the title song, there's a really awesomely manic string section that I've always hoped was live

The string section is live. The only bits towards the end that aren't are the synth beat, the organ and the guitar.

Re Christines and their end note, ALW claimed after Sarah Brightman left that he wanted the note to seem like it was 'magically' coming out of her mouth. That was the justification he gave to the Christines that followed her anyway, but I'm sure preserving the actors' voices has something to do with it. I'm not so sure about Broadway, but in London certain Christines often choose to sing over the pre-recorded notes, and the sound people adjust accordingly. Rachel Barrell, for instance, frequently used to sing those vocalisations live.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-22 16:48:10


Prince is no stranger to lip synching--parts of Follies were as well. I think it's justified and doesn't bother me.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by temms 2012-07-22 17:52:14


The entire first verse of the Overture (the Organ) is recorded. The orchestra doesn't play until the trumpets enter on the second verse.

Most of the title song vocals are on tape - I'm pretty sure that "In all your fantasies, you always knew" is where they pick up live again. The cadenza and high note are back on tape. The Phantom's offstage verse in "Notes" is prerecorded.

I think there are one or two other little spots as well.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by Auggie27 2012-07-22 18:01:45


Julie Andrews recorded the famous ascension in "Le Jazz hot" and it was fairly obvious, as her entire vocal performance was carefully measured so that she could perform it 8 times a week.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by AEA AGMA SM 2012-07-22 18:07:27


"Most of the title song vocals are on tape - I'm pretty sure that "In all your fantasies, you always knew" is where they pick up live again. The cadenza and high note are back on tape."

Though to be technical I'm sure there's nothing on "tape" anymore, as I can not imagine that they did not go entirely digital when they upgraded the sound system a few years ago, if not well before then.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by CATSNYrevival 2012-07-22 18:09:50


^Is that true about Julie Andrews? Did they also use the recording on the DVD, because if so I can't imagine why they wouldn't have gone with a better recording of it.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by temms 2012-07-22 18:13:11


Right, "tape" is probably not the format anymore. I used to have a copy of the Piano/Conductor score from the German production, long since borrowed and not returned, and each pre-recorded place was labeled "auf Band" ("on tape"), so that's where my mind goes.

On an unrelated note, how nice is it not to have to use tape anymore for that kind of thing?

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-22 19:26:27


I know that there were some major tape issues with Follies up until opening night.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by winston89 2012-07-22 20:00:34


A couple of years back, a friend of mine, who was responsible for recreating the set for the Broadway production, took me on a backstage tour of Phantom as a surprise birthday gift. One of the things that I did see was a little shelf. On that shelf there were two earpieces, a monitor and two microphones. I was told that that was where the offstage singing was done. I know that one part that is sung offstage and is not pre recorded is the little bit of All I ask of You that Raoul and Christine sing at the end of the show. I don't know (maybe someone here knows) if there are any other parts that are sung offstage rather than pre recorded?

Also, it was cool sitting in our seats talking to her prior to the show starting, seeing them prep for that evening's performance. Part of the pre show set up consisted of going through all the pre recorded tracks to make sure that they were ready and working for the show. One thing I did notice was that there were some lines/parts that were pre recorded that didn't seem that they needed to be.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-22 20:23:53


"Prince is no stranger to lip synching--parts of Follies were as well. I think it's justified and doesn't bother me."

Which parts and how do we know, Eric? I'm curious because I think that would have caused a furor had it been publicized in 1971.

Are you only talking about the chaos section at the end of Loveland? I think that was (and still is) understood to be a sort of special effect, with recordings added to live performances to achieve the desired cacophony. Not exactly the same as "lip-synching" a solo or duet.

But I remember the righteous indignation on "the Street" when it was leaked that some of Liza Minnelli's vocals were taped so that she could sing while dancing in THE ACT. That was six years after FOLLIES and there was considerable outrage; to most people at the time, it seemed unprecedented.

***

As for PHANTOM, I'm sure I don't need to reiterate my hatred for the "tricks" in the title number sequence. Phony cinema at the expense of live theatricality. I hate it even more now that people I respect (Eric most definitely included) find it acceptable. How sad that shoddy theme-park staging could come from the same man who had staged "Too Many Mornings" and "Someone in a Tree" so brilliantly!

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by nasty_khakis 2012-07-22 20:30:28


Follies used some prerecorded vocals during "Who's That Woman" and in "Loveland" I believe to sweeten the sound, not entirely lip sync. Hairspray also used them during "You Can't Stop the Beat" and Xanadu used them for exactly 2 lines of "I'm Alive" since most of the cast was under the stage and had to worry about stepping onto the lift, etc.

Parts of "Bring it On" are sweetened, parts are entirely lip synced, and parts are supposed to be a "recorded" voice as part of the routine.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by My Oh My 2012-07-22 20:36:19


Which parts of Follies were prerecorded?

The only part I could think of that would be is right before Loveland when they're all singing, yelling, talking at the same time as the curtain descends (in the recent revival).

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by nasty_khakis 2012-07-22 20:40:18


This is all addressed in Ted Chaplain's book. The prerecorded some of the ensemble vocals in "Who's that Woman" so it would sound bigger, louder, richer, etc. They were still singing live, just WITH the track to increase the sound. They caused a lot of problems syncing them with the orchestra and Equity eventually forced them to pay the actors an extra week's salary for doing the recordings.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-22 20:40:42


I don't think they are singing before Loveland, just arguing. But since the arguments are going on simultaneously in 1941 and 1971, we only understand snippets of dialogue here and there.

The entire cast sings portions of their own numbers at the END of Loveland, to signify Ben's psychological break. It's supposed to be a dramatization of a Freudian catharsis. Supposedly every song in the show is somewhere in the vocals or orchestration. I do believe recordings were used to sweeten this section.

***

ETA Thank you, nasty_khakis, that makes perfect sense. I didn't live in New York at the time, so I don't know if the sweetening for "Who's That Woman?" caused outrage or not. Sounds like AEA wasn't thrilled at the process of combining recordings with live performances, not if the union made the production pay extra salaries.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2012-07-22 20:46:40


Yes, to be clear it was sweetened, not totally lip synchbed. Chapin goes into it at some length--but Who's That Woman, Loveland and I believe the breakdown were the parts it was used for, as mentioned.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by GavestonPS 2012-07-22 20:59:43


Thanks, Eric. I obviously need to reread the Chapin book. I devoured it so hungrily when it came out that I'm sure I missed many details. It should be particularly meaningful now that the revival is fresh in my mind.

ETA I also need to dig my copy of the original production script out of the garage. My memory is that the revival book cut down a lot of the character details of the supporting players, in the process increasing our focus on the central quartet. But I need to reread the original. It's entirely possible I've invented "new scenes" or at least new lines in my memory of it.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by TheGingerBreadMan 2013-02-09 13:25:28


I found this video on Youtube. John Cudia, who used to play the Phantom, explains how Raoul and Christine run to the basement and put on a headset to sing "All I Ask of You (Reprise)" live. To see it, skip to about 7:50.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by beensince1987 2013-02-09 13:49:41


Also here is Seth's "Obsessed" video with a string player from Phantom, also Gay Willis hitting high E in the end of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9dLou-8w3Uo

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by TheGingerBreadMan 2013-02-09 14:05:27


^
Love that video. Seth is awesome.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by FireFingers 2013-02-09 15:02:11


Sadly a lot more of broadway than producers would admit is on "tape" as people are calling it (Modern designs use computer harddrives with it stored on, older shows use CD and some are still on mini-disk). If you see the production in London of Phantom, you can tell which songs have non-live orchestrations, as the conductor dons an enormous pair of headphones to listen to the pre-recorded parts. Budget cuts have meant instruments have been pre-recorded and the musician cut, their is no longer a guitarist in Phantom, for example.

Bits are added in and taken away depending on the performer's skill. Some can manage the cadenza, so it is sung live, with only the last note added, and so on.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by Dave19 2013-02-09 15:24:38


The whole title song is pre-recorded in every production of the Phantom around the world. From the first to the last line.
They have all the separated vocal tracks, so if (for example)the understudy Christine is performing with the main Phantom that day, they just put in her vocal track, together with the Phantom's track and the clicktrack, as the orchestra plays along.

It has happened that one of the vocal tracks would not play because of technical issues, and then after the first 2 lines of the song, you could see the Christine realizing there is no sound, so she starts singing the song live. It happened in London and she looked scared. The first verses we kind of ok, but she started modulating halfway through the cadenza. It was awful.

There is 29 minutes and 31 seconds of singing pre-recorded in the first act of Phantom.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by SweetLips 2013-02-09 17:15:31


Sorry to do a side step but reading about 'tape recording'-I did a 2 year tour with a Minstrel show and to enable us to dance and creat the very distinctive sound required,we taped our vocals with a piano,base and drums and sang along with our tapes each performance to a live pit orchestra.Each song segment always started with 3 rim shots-can't remember if that came from the conductor or the tape.The large tape deck was in the prompt corner and the level of sound dropped considerably when the tape occasionally broke-we had to sing much louder till the tape was fixed as we certainly didn't have personal mics.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by darquegk 2013-02-09 17:53:48


That's also the traditional cruise ship and theme park method- solos are always "live" for the featured soloists with personal mics, but everyone is singing live along with pre-recorded group vocals, and the orchestra plays along with a recorded small combo.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by Wynbish 2013-02-09 18:05:26


^ And the Glee Live! method

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by FireFingers 2013-02-09 18:21:08


I had a friend who worked on a cruise ship where they had a recording of everything, so that if the sax player was ill, or the drummer had hurt his hand, or the lead had sore throat, their whole part could be played from tape.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by GavestonPS 2013-02-09 18:47:25


They do the same at the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies and don't even bother to deny it.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by CATSNYrevival 2013-02-09 19:03:53


Why would they deny it?

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by jnb9872 2013-02-09 23:12:26


To the OP's question about other shows, MAMMA MIA! has pretty much all the backing vocals tracked, as no one in the ensemble is visibly mic'ed...

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by Wynbish 2013-02-09 23:13:27


Doesn't Mamma Mia have backstage singers in booths?

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by jnb9872 2013-02-09 23:40:50


The time I saw it, the track skipped during the Act I Finale medley.

I'm hoping that wasn't singers-in-booths, because I wouldn't want to know what happened to them that made them do that...

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by broadwayguy2 2013-02-10 00:35:17


Dear lord...

jnb,
That is entirely false. The entire cast of Mamma Mia is mic'ed and sing live. Mamma Mia IS a stickler for mounting the mics right at the hairline, but on ALL of the ensemble men, you can see the mic cable taped to their backs along the spine when they shirtless and their transmitters are generally in the crotch of the costumes to avoid bulges in odd places when wearing smaller costumes.
The show also has several vocal booths backstage where the cast sings background vocals LIVE any time they are not physically on the stage, in which case, they'd be singing upstage of the taverna walls. You can EASILY search any number of backstage tour videos where this is shown. They DO use a sweetner track to thicken up the vocals during the curtain call megamix and during the act one finale since all hands are onstage.. and in the case of the act one finale (Voulez-Vouz), dancing quite hard.

Now, to other posts...

As far as conductors wearing headphones go, have you ever been in a pit on a podium? A conductor wearing headphones does not automatically mean that vocals or orchestrations are recorded. To be fair, they MIGHT be one aspect, but headphones do NOT mean pre-recorded actors or musicians. The headphones generally signify that a click track.. quite literally just a steady ticking beat of a metronome.. is being used. That is ONLY to maintain a steady, even tempo for the conductor and orchestra... GENERALLY because of an automated scenic or lighting element that is programmed at a specific speed and must be in tempo with the music. There are numerous other reasons that the conductor can wear headphones, but that is just one.


Pre-recorded vocals might be employed for moments that require unusual staging - ie, the water effect in Flashdance or Wedding Singer, but AEA is a stickler for how it is employed and why.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by RemlapLBC 2013-02-14 01:04:30


In official articles about Phantom, it has said the conductor and drummer wear headphones with a click track during the overture.
Nothing to add about the title song, except that I know they are recorded and if recorded, why can't Christine sing all 8 shows?

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by Movidude742 2013-02-14 08:39:00


Rock of ages uses a sound booth so swings, ensemble and other off stage cast can fill out the sound. At the Brooks Dennis' one line in Don't Stop in the balcony was taped (Oh the Musical it never ends) But not at the Hayes I am told.

Mamma Mia fired a keyboardist for revealing publicly that much of the ensemble was at least doubled by pre-recorded tracks. I tend to believe this source

Any idea if Sierra Boggess sang the entire title song live during the 25th Anniversary Performance? She was facing the audience more than the show staging. I would not be surprised if she did everything, or everything but the final note.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by Visceral_Fella 2013-02-14 09:35:08


I mistakenly thought that when I saw Wicked that they were lip synching. It was my first musical and several years ago, but I remember seeing the show and being amazed, and then listening to the cast recording and being just as amazed. Somehow I thought it was impossible for people to sound that way live. I'm not completely surprised that people are so impressed with performances that they are almost in disbelief. Especially if it's someone who doesn't frequent theatre.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by Dave19 2013-02-14 11:59:01


"Any idea if Sierra Boggess sang the entire title song live during the 25th Anniversary Performance? She was facing the audience more than the show staging. I would not be surprised if she did everything, or everything but the final note."

She lip-synched the whole song.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by newintown 2013-02-14 12:14:59


Returning to Follies, in the published score, after the dance in "Who's That Woman?," the top part is marked "Stella (+tape)." I thought Chapin addressed this, but maybe I heard elsewhere, that the tape of Mary McCarty was needed because she was winded and she couldn't belt over 6 other shrieking gals (all singing much higher than her). This was before the elaborate body-miking technology currently in use.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by AEA AGMA SM 2013-02-14 12:18:50


That's what I seem to recall, though it's been a long time since I've read the book. I also seem to remember that there were dancers somewhere offstage also doing the tap routine with a microphone pointed at the floor to help provide a fuller tap sound (though I don't remember if this was in Chapin's book or somewhere else that I read that).

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by newintown 2013-02-14 12:36:11


The chorus boys were in a room under the stage making the tap sounds - that's the story I've heard many times.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by mwey 2013-05-01 17:22:45


Hi Broadwayguy,
Since the click track is just a metronome, would the conductor or other musicians know where to start? or they have other special signal in it to indicate the starting point.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by Tag 2013-05-01 18:02:09


Mwey the conductor would have control over the click track and be the one starting it (usually).

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by EricMontreal22 2013-05-01 18:59:26


"My memory is that the revival book cut down a lot of the character details of the supporting players, in the process increasing our focus on the central quartet. But I need to reread the original."

Yes, and no--in some parts, for sure, but the ending in the original was just the four leads. Everyone else has already left--in the revival there's much more added, somewht comic dialogue from secondary characters in that part.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by winston89 2013-05-01 19:16:45


Going back to Phantom.

With regards to the pre recording, it isn't of Sarah Brightman singing. I believe Equity states that if there is a pre recorded track of any kind, it has to be of the performer that is currently on stage. So, to use Phantom again as an example, there is a different pre recorded track of the title song for the lead as well as a different one for the alternate. Another example that comes to mind is Wicked. When we hear Nessarose moaning in act two off stage, it's a pre recording of whoever is on that night. If it's the lead, than it's a pre recording of the lead. If the understudy is on that night, then they have to use a different pre recorded track.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by shobizpro 2013-05-01 21:19:38


"Dear lord...

jnb,
That is entirely false. The entire cast of Mamma Mia is mic'ed and sing live. Mamma Mia IS a stickler for mounting the mics right at the hairline, but on ALL of the ensemble men, you can see the mic cable taped to their backs along the spine when they shirtless and their transmitters are generally in the crotch of the costumes to avoid bulges in odd places when wearing smaller costumes.
The show also has several vocal booths backstage where the cast sings background vocals LIVE any time they are not physically on the stage, in which case, they'd be singing upstage of the taverna walls. You can EASILY search any number of backstage tour videos where this is shown. They DO use a sweetner track to thicken up the vocals during the curtain call megamix and during the act one finale since all hands are onstage.. and in the case of the act one finale (Voulez-Vouz), dancing quite hard."

broadwayguy has it right, although at the end of the 2nd National Tour (and in subsequent tours as well, I'm sure) the chorus booths were eliminated in favor of the ensemble simply singing with their normal mics to offstage conductor monitors.

"in the case of the act one finale (Voulez-Vouz), dancing quite hard."
And clapping their hands and their dancing partner's hands close to their faces (and mics) which was somewhat problematic.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by troynow 2013-05-21 18:34:22


Not true. A portion of the tittle song is tracked because of the vocal demand and the staging of the show. There are 3 phantoms and Christines used to go into the Lair. But the rest of the show is live.

Phantom Lip-Synching?
Posted by broadwayguy2 2013-05-21 19:03:15


mwey,
Sorry for the delay in responding, but I just found this thread again.
The conductor controls the clicktrack. A clicktack / metronome is, quite literally, just a steady click on the beat to keep steady tempo, so it can be started 4 counts before they begin to play or a minute and a half.. it does does not matter. It does not cue a musician as to when to play.. only the conductor will do that.
As I have stated previously, it keeps a steady tempo. and this is often critical.. especially what automted / preprogrammed things happen during a number. During a song, especially during a dance break, the stage manager calls cue to the count of the music and therefore, it needs to be steady, both to create the desired visual, but more importantly, for safety.

showbizpro,
Yes yes... save space on those trucks!
aAs far as clapping I goes, I think it goes without saying that clapping into a microphone would be VERY unpleasant for the audience as well potentially damaging the mic itself.