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Work Samples

D Crandall original music 2018: En el tiempo de las mariposas

From GALA Hispanic's production of EN EL TIEMPO DE LAS MARIPOSAS, about four sisters who gave their lives fighting dictatorship in the era of Trujillo. This production featured a combination of historic merengues and bachatas, as well as original music based on the contemporary reggaeton style.

D Crandall 2018: Como agua para chocolate

From Laura Esquivel's beloved novel. At one point in the show, this musical sequence was used to cover a longish pantomime depicting 15 years passing in the life of the de la Garza family. (I was reminded of François Couperin's "Les Barricades Mystérieuses" while creating this music, so I guess that makes it an hommage of sorts.) Production photos by Daniel Martinez.


About David

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

David Crandall's picture
I’ve always been interested in theater “in the wild,” undomesticated by commerce, theory or politics but possessing a potent, subversive charge of value, concept and power. From an undergraduate fascination with English ritual street theater and Peter Brooks’ THE EMPTY SPACE, through my years in Washington, first as a stagehand with Peter Sellars’ American National Theater, then as one of the first theatrical sound designers in the area, to my time in Baltimore with its thriving DIY and... more

Original music and sound design examples, 2015-2017

A short video featuring clips from recent music and sound design projects. Projects featured:

  • don Juan Tenorio, Gala Hispanic Theater, Washington, DC, 2017.
  • The Master and Margarita, Annex Theater, Baltimore, 2016.
  • The Year of the Rooster, Single Carrot Theater, Baltimore, 2015.
  • Jarry Inside Out, Spooky Action Theater, Washington DC, 2015
  • Richard III, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Baltimore, 2017.
  • Minotaur, Annex Theater, 2016.

Some lighting designs 2016-2017

My lighting designs have focused on guerilla techniques for non-traditional spaces and productions. For her 2016 Theatre Project performance Subject/Object, Naoko Maeshiba turned the theater around, seating the audience on the stage. This enabled her to "swim" down the audience risers through billowing plastic waves, lit from beneath, and emerge from the first row of the theater as a newborn creature. Strategically placed household LEDs were used to prevent heat buildup to creat the "waves." For an appropriately warm look for the "birthing" sequence, small "hot lights" were placed in the front row.
After a second act that was a comedic cabaret, the third section of the piece turned dark and mysterious as the audience, now facing the back of the stage, witnessed a performance tied together by mystery, sound and salt.

The Shattering Frame was a unique noir tale of urban corruption, produced by Annex Theater in 2017. Director Trevor Wilhelms wanted a shadowy, fluid lighting treatment, controlled by the actors during performance. Four small spotlights were hand-held by performers and controlled from the dimmer system. This low-tech "moving lights" approach permitted many unique effects to be produced, which lent the story the demimondaine aspect it deserved.

The Fête of Mistakes, produced by Psychic Readings Company at Le Mondo in December 2016, presented a number of interesting challenges and opportunities. The performance space, lacking an existing lighting system or grid, became an intimate, claustrophobic theater that opened out into the wider space of Le Mondo for a spectacular finale demolition derby. Lighting instruments, ranging from LED flashlights to clip lights to standard theatrical fixtures, were used to create a subterranean "Cave of the Winds" beneath Niagara Falls.

Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE at Annex Theater: music direction & orchestrations

One of my favorite classical works is Mozart's Magic Flute, a singspiel that is connected, not only to high opera, but to the rowdy German music halls of its time. So I was delighted when, in 2015, Annex Theater asked me to help as music director in staging this gem in a tiny, 30-person theater on North Avenue.

Budget ruled an orchestra out of the question—the score would have to be played on computer and built in software—but it occurred to me to embrace this fact by scoring the orchestra as a collection of sampled toy, mechanical, and a few historical and folk instruments. By "historical" I mean samples of not just 18th century orchestral instruments, but also authentic 1950s and 60s synthesizers, including the unique Jennings Univox, a vacuum-tube instrument from 1954. The result was an exceptionally warm and unique accompaniment for the singers. The score was mixed in 4-channel surround and played back on computer.

Annex company member Jacob Budenz joined me as director of the singers, and we collaborated on stylistic details; Evan Moritz directed the staging, and Doug Johnson provided magnificent painted backdrops that paged like a giant picture-book to reveal the settings.

Photos by Dave Iden

  • "Hm! Hm! Hm!"

    The orchestration of the quintet "Hm! Hm! Hm!" featuring (the magically silenced) Papageno, Tamino and the three Ladies, set up for editing as MIDI data in Ableton Live.
  • Papageno

    Ishai Barnoy as Papageno in Annex Theater's production of THE MAGIC FLUTE
  • Virtual orchestra

    A "rack" of digitally-sampled instruments in Native Instruments' KONTAKT application. Note the presence of various toy instruments. The panel at the bottom holds controls for the Jennings Univox synthesizer plugin.
  • The Queen of the Night

    Allison Clendaniel as Queen of the Night in Annex Theater's production of THE MAGIC FLUTE.
  • Rehearsal score

    A page from the Queen of the Night's first aria. Red markings indicate "rehearsal letters" corresponding to phrases to be manually cued in performance. We found a Russian-language piano score that had plenty of space to insert our new English translation.
  • Real time playback control

    The music was broken up into phrases for easier rehearsal cuing, and larger sections to be manually cued in performance by the stage manager. This software is Qlab, from Baltimore-based company Figure 53.
  • Overture excerpt

    A brief excerpt from the Overture using sampled toy and mechanical instruments.

THE WEDDING DRESS: Projections (and sound) design

Playwright Nelson Rodrigues revolutionized Brazilian theater in 1942 with this dreamy, radical story of the death of a young woman in the 1920s. Director Rebecca Holderness and set designer Vicki Davis devised a white, fragmented playing space sliced in two by a sheer curtain that ran diagonally for the entire width of the theater.

The video design for this project was based on a small projector mounted in a housing that mimicked the movie cameras of the day, and allowed projected imagery to play across the curtain, permitting actors to have access from either side, and also to "shoot" video onto actors' bodies, upstage walls and other surfaces.

I also contributed the sound design for this project.

  • Video on the curtain

    Video of Rio de Janeiro traffic projected onto a sheer curtain, with an actor behind "mirroring" her own shadow.
  • General view

    The playing space with the curtain open. Note the projector in its housing on a tripod to the right, and the image on the floor, where the actor is looking.

Rhymes with Opera's RED GIANT: Lighting and projections design, tech direction

After working with Baltimore's Rhymes With Opera on David Smooke's Criminal Element, we discussed creating lighting and video for operas that are specifically intended to tour in a standard minivan.

Adam Matlock's Red Giant was an excellent choice for this. Set in a time when the Sun has become a "red giant" and is about to engulf the Earth, this opera follows three individuals who, among many others, have built jury-rigged spaceships and blasted off for destinations unknown, to escape certain destruction at home.

The lighting rig was very simple: a few instruments on either end of a tiny (8' wide) playing area, LED strip lights along the sides of this "rocket," and a scrim upstage that screened the orchestra (a home security monitor provided a conductor's video feed to the singers via a small CRT that was part of the set). Complex colors and imagery were provided by a single video projector mounted behind and above the action, which washed the singers with nostalgia-laden imagery as they sang of their lost home.

  • Red Giant trio

    Elisabeth Halliday, Bonnie Lander and Robert Maril, in a side view of the stage
  • Red Giant duet

    Elisabeth Halliday and Bonnie Lander at the controls
  • what's out there?

    Robert Maril, Bonnie Lander and Elisabeth Halliday face the unknown

Songs from stage productions

Occasionally, I am called on (or inspired) to compose songs for particular scenes in the plays I design. Here are a pair of songs from recent shows.

  • Hella Bossa

    A character in Annex's MASTER & MARGARITA inspired Dan Hanrahan and myself to create a song for the mysterious redhead demon, Hella, here sung by Kristen Toedtman with Portuguese lyrics by Dan.
  • Kafka On The Shore-title song

    The story of Haruki Murakami's KAFKA ON THE SHORE revolves partially around a song, created during the 60s by a young, amateur musician, which threads throughout a tale of love and redemption that spans 50 years. The thought of period Japanese "rockabiri" music and a mournful Badalamenti-esque baritone guitar inspired this tune, here sung by cast member Julia Nakamoto and with lyrics by Murakami himself.

David's Curated Collection

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