Wait Until Dark Wednesday: Behind the Music

Wait Until Dark is in full force and to highlight some of the cool pieces of the show, we are doing a short series called “Wait Until Dark” every Wednesday through Nov. 5.

While the various technical aspects of the production play a critical role in moving the thrilling plot along (set design, lighting, etc.), one piece of the suspenseful puzzle lies with the sound– from the ’60s-era songs that transition the scenes throughout the performance to the spot-on sound effects and ominous music box, sound helps keeps audience members on the edge of their seat.

The man behind the sound is Arkansas Repertory Theatre Resident Sound Engineer Allan Branson, who is in his third season here at the theatre.

For plays like Wait Until Dark, our music professionals and creative team approach the music slightly different than musicals like Memphis and Les Miserables.

Wait Until Dark Photo by Tyler Rosenthal

Wait Until Dark
Photo by Tyler Rosenthal

While musicals are led by musical director Mark Binns on our second stage and mixed in to our auditorium by Branson, plays are done a little differently.

“For straight plays (like Wait Until Dark), all of the music and sounds are prerecorded and pre-programmed into a computer, so that a board op can easily play back the exact same show every night,” Branson said.

From the beginning, Branson works with the director of the play on what they want to accomplish with the music and for the most part, lyrical content is generally not the way he chooses music.

“Most of the time, I look particularly for music with no lyrics at all, if possible,” he said.

Sometimes specific songs or recordings of music are desired, though, like with this production, where Director and Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp requested popular songs of the era to transition the scenes along.

“[But] for the most part, I don’t want lyrics or the music, itself,  to get in the way of the story being told,” Branson continued. “After all, that is our main mission in theatre– to share a story with an audience.”

In addition to the prerecorded soundtrack that Branson has created for Wait Until Dark, Binns worked with Hupp on putting together a special tune for the music box onstage. Watch the video below on Binns’ process of creating this piece for the show!

Great seats are available for Wait Until Dark. Purchase yours online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.