Broadway Sound Designer Abe Jacob to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Live Design Awards

By: May. 18, 2016
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Legendary theatrical sound designer Abe Jacob will be honored for his pioneering career achievements at the Live Design Awards on Monday, June 13 in New York. Another legendary icon, Chita Rivera, will present the award to Jacob, whom she has known since the original Broadway production of CHICAGO (1975).

In addition to bestowing this Lifetime Achievement Award, Live Design will honor Jacob by creating The Abe Jacob Award for Excellence in Sound Design as a permanent annual award.

"I'm thrilled that the work of future theatrical sound designers will continue to be acknowledged," Jacob says, "but it's bittersweet as our work on Broadway is no longer recognized by the Tony Awards."

The remarkable career of Abe Jacob has spanned over five decades. He started in rock and roll in San Francisco and went on to create concert sound for such legendary artists as Jimi Hendrix; The Mamas and the Papas; Peter, Paul and Mary and the historic rock celebration, The Monterey Pop Festival and then brought that rock sensibility to Broadway audiences.

Abe's remarkable achievements in theatre sound design virtually brought the field into existence when he was called in to create the sound design for the original Broadway production of HAIR. What HAIR needed at that time was the type of sound system that Jacob had pioneered for rock and roll. The problems were much more severe than a sound mixer could remedy. HAIR was rock and roll - even if much of it was acoustically based, it still required microphones, amplification and a sound system capable of rock and roll sound and rock and roll sound levels. He set about designing the sound system for the show in Boston and then redesigned all of the existing productions of HAIR including Broadway and all the sit-down productions around the US and foreign cities.

Abe Jacob's career also traces the remarkable transformation in American theatre largely enabled by his pioneering influence and knowledge.

Jacob has mentored the majority of the sound designers working in the theatre today and is affectionately known as the Godfather of Sound Design. And, without even realizing it, Abe brought a much needed change to the Broadway stage. He loves what he does and is totally dedicated to his work and passing his knowledge on. As early Broadway soundman Jack Mann said "Then along came Abe Jacob with HAIR, and we suddenly had someone who called himself a 'sound designer' in New York. That changed things!"

Abe's major Broadway, touring and world-wide production credits include: HAIR (1969), JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (1971), PIPPIN (1972), THE WHO'S TOMMY (1973), SEESAW (1974), MACK AND MABEL (1974), ROCKY HORROR SHOW (1975), A CHORUS LINE (1975), CHICAGO (1975), JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (1976), BEATLEMANIA (1977), HAIR (revival 1977), THE ACT (1978), DANCIN' (1978), GILDA RADNER-LIVE FROM NEW YORK (1979), EVITA (1979), WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1981), CATS (1981), MERLIN (1983), BIG DEAL (1986), BLACK AND BLUE (1989), The Gershwins' FASCINATING RHYTHM (1999), RAIN (2010) and more.

Together with Jules Fisher (lighting design) and Robin Wagner (set design), they were the "go to" theatrical design team. Abe is currently sound consultant for the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center and continues to mentor.

Abe's extraordinary career was acknowledged by the United States Institute for Theatre Technology with its Distinguished Achievement in Sound Award in 1999 and its highest honor the USITT Award in 2008, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Eddy Award by Entertainment Design Magazine. In 2008, the USITT published a book entitled The Designs of Abe Jacob by Richard K. Thomas, which chronicles Jacob's legendary career.

Live Design is a live entertainment design and technology magazine.

The Live Design Awards will be held on Monday, June 13 at Upper Story by Charlie Palmer in New York.

Photo by Sean Murray