I was working in my studio, mixing a new recording for Harvey Averne. The session had run through part of the day and it was Tuesday 6:30PM. I remember the exact time very clearly as that is the time when all the Broadway theaters turn “on”, after the Sunday – Monday off-day. I had set up an A/C meter on the incoming power line. I would watch to see if I could ever see the voltage drop from all the theaters turning on at almost the same time, which is 6:30.
At 6:32 I got a call from Jean (sorry I don’t remember Eileen as it says in the playbill), Production Sound Mixer at “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof”. Jean said, with great annoyance, “somebody stole the console from the theater”. She had tried to call the shop a minute earlier, but it was closed. Then she called the studio, (as I was partners with Sound Associates). So I jumped in.
There were no spare consoles in the Sound Associates midtown shop. If I called somebody to go and open the wear-house and deliver a console from Yonkers, it never would have gotten to NYC in time. So I called my friends at a mid-town Rock and Roll PA company, AudioForce. I reached Tom, if I remember correctly. He had a truck that had just picked a console, used the day before, and the console was still on board the truck. The truck was stuck near the shop, in mid-town traffic.
Tom rerouted the truck with the console, to go in front of the Eugene O’Neill theater. When the truck arrived, Harvey, I, and the two guys on board carried this replacement console right through the lobby, to where the show was being operated from, the first box. This was kind of an illegal delivery without the Stage Hands union, but they were happy to have someone pulling the show out of the fire. Everybody was very cool and thankful.
With the console up in the box, in place, I started wiring it in. I had no paperwork but there wasn’t a lot of audio, just sound effects and a few mics as inputs. The output snake had been run backwards so fortunately all the necessary turn around connectors were left by the thief. (Interestingly, the thief was an idiot because he took the console without the power supply so it was useless to him anyway.)
The outputs from the console to the amplifiers were not labeled. I figured it out anyway. I took a paperclip and shorted the connector female pins. The static snap coming out of the speakers helped identify which speakers were on-stage sound effects speakers, and which were house speakers. With time being critical and no one on stage I wasn’t sure which was left and which was right, but I proceeded anyway.
During the time under the console wiring, the House manager and the Police had arrived. They wanted to know how someone could steal the console. I explained I had nothing to do with the show, had no idea who or how the console was stolen, and I really couldn’t talk to them at that time and still be ready by an 8:00 curtain.
The police were cool and let me work. I finished wiring up the console and Jean was sure it was workable. We had no time to test anything and show started.
I went with Harvey down to the back of the seating. The show opens with a distant train moving left to right. Charles Durning, (one of the principle actors, along with Kathleen Turner,) watches (listens) to the distant train as it moves upstage of him. He played the movement of the train perfectly. Everything was working. Harvey and I left the theater.
I found out later that Durning said the movement of the train was reversed and he picked up on it and played the movement the other way. He was very cool. I couldn’t see the switch from the house, the way he played it. Anyway it all worked perfectly. The audience never knew there was almost no show.
Harvey and I went back to the studio and continued mixing. There are many stories of what happens in live theater. Some are crazier than others. All become Broadway legend.