Letter: Amped up a downer

As the Invercargill Music Theatre Company prepares for the Mamma Mia! show it is pertinent to ask what decibel levels will the backing band be amplified to?

After surveying several age groups about sound level on past local productions what should have been an enjoyable experience, being marred by excessive noise amplification of the backing band. The response to my poll has been that local productions have been so loud that they drown out the vocal contribution to the show.

Oh for the days of a live backing orchestra (which used to be in the area just under the front of the stage), which respected the important role of vocalists in a production.

Of the many theatres I have visited, (examples Mamma Mia! and Wicked, both in Melbourne) the Civic has the best acoustics not warranting the high levels of amplification.

Just to verify the fact that it is not just me who is offended by the over amplification, would the Music Theatre Company and The Southland Times run a poll to prove or disprove the point that I, and many like me, wish to make.


Invercargill Musical Theatre president Mark Holmes replies: I, too, remember the days of a live orchestra and the days when amplification of a show was at its minimum, but even then there were mics pointing at the performers and indeed the orchestra. As with all things, technology has moved on and we find that with modern productions we have no choice but to amplify our shows.

In recent years we have been forced to use backing tracks due to financial pressures and the added difficulty of finding a full orchestra but I can assure Mr Miller, along with all our patrons, that their comfort and enjoyment is paramount to us. This is, after all, why we work so hard to bring Southland audiences the very best in musical theatre.

I am proud to say we have a live band of amazing local musicians for Mamma Mia! and have invested much time and considerable expense to make sure we have the very best sound available. As for a poll being taken, I can say that close to 6500 Southlanders have already booked to see Mamma Mia!, a resounding vote of confidence I think.

The Southland Times