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‘Popular’ demand: How SFCC helped the touring ‘Wicked’ production fine-tune its shows

UPDATED: Thu., March 24, 2022

The touring Broadway production of “Wicked” got some mid-run tweaking during its stop in Spokane thanks to some behind-the-scenes magic at the Spokane Falls Community College recording studio.

The production team behind the North American tour used the studio to rerecord several voiceovers due to cast changes. The “Wicked” tour, now in its third and final week, kicked off at the First Interstate Center for the Arts on March 9.

Jennafer Newberry, Lissa DeGuzman, Kimberly Immanuel and John Bolton are now in the roles of Glinda, Elphaba, Nessarose and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, respectively, replacing Allison Bailey, Talia Suskauer, Amanda Fallon Smith and Cleavant Derricks.

The roughly three-hour session at SFCC saw voiceover lines rerecorded for each of those characters, said Steve Gamberoni, SFCC’s program lead of audio engineering.

“Because they’re new actors, they wanted to have their voices as the sound cues instead of the previous actors,” Gamberoni said. “I think too that maybe as the show evolved, they had different ideas on how those voiceovers should be to make it more current and to fit the people playing those parts.”

Used for the first time Tuesday night, the voiceovers were recorded at the SFCC studio March 11. Gamberoni said the studio was recommended by a “Wicked” stagehand who happens to be an SFCC graduate.

In “The Wizard of Oz” terms, Gamberoni has served as the sound studio’s “man behind the curtain” since his hire in 2006. The current setup has been located in the college’s music building since the building’s 2011 renovation.

Up until the “Wicked” session, Gamberoni said the SFCC studio had never recorded voiceovers for a Broadway show during his time at the college. The studio, as part of the college’s audio engineering program, is typically used by bands for student projects, along with some external clients.

“It’s a pretty unique thing for a community college to have such a high-quality recording facility, especially one as successful with students and a program like this,” Gamberoni said.

Two student interns helped set up the equipment that Friday for the “Wicked” session, Gamberoni said. The SFCC team’s job was solely to record the audio, he said, as the takes were edited together by David Romich, the “Wicked” show’s head sound engineer.

Remarking on the professionalism of the “Wicked” production team, Gamberoni said he wanted the students to see how detail-oriented the directors were with the voiceovers – from annunciation to inflection and everything in between.

“Every little note is analyzed and every rhythm, and they have them do it probably about a dozen times or so, and each one’s great, but they want to get a slightly different variation on each so they have some room to work with when they edit,” he said. “It was a good learning experience for the students to see that.”

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