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Naked Gun Lives (the ultimate body mic story)

So I'm doing Jesus Christ Superstar, with the band on one side of the stage, and at the end of the crucifixion scene, everything is quiet. All eyes are on Jesus and the cross.

Suddenly, I'm aware of an unmistakable watering sound coming through the sound system: a steady stream of liquid is running from a moderate height and landing in a larger pool of liquid. Next, we hear the sound of a toilet flushing. All the while, one of the most poignant and tragic events in the history of mankind is being acted out on stage.

It turns out some unknown noodnik in the cast who had left the stage before this scene didn't turn off his body mic, and proceeded directly to the bathroom. No one ever came forward to accept responsibility. A female crew member determined the sound to be male, based on the splash ratio.

Naturally, I was livid after the show. Where were the sound people??? But it turned out that you could only hear the sound through the on-stage monitors. Being that nobody in the audience was reacting, it seems that it was inaudible there. The director, who was in the house, confirmed this. Whew!

Just imagine if the sound had made it into the house--Jesus on the cross and people are laughing!
That's a sound tech screwup. Actors should never be expected to turn off or mute their own mics.
I was an actor on stage with a body mic once, and you're right. We didn't turn off our own mics. But when we came off stage, we had a stagehand whose responsibility was to remove the mics and transmitting boxes off our persons.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I've been to more than one performance that this has happened.

As a guy that has run soundboards, I can say that you only have to hit one button for each mike not being used. It's labeled "mute". However, there is an excuse: if there are a LOT of folks wearing body mikes, there may be more folks than there are channels on the sound board and everything's going through a shared system, so if you do hit "mute", you'll turn off a lot more than just one person.

So, it could be the individual performer's duty to turn off the mike :).
That's a sound tech screwup. Actors should never be expected to turn off or mute their own mics.
Not expected, nor should it be allowed.

The mistake was at the soundboard, in that they probably had that mic running to the monitors 'pre-fader', which is usual when you do bands, but not when you're running sound for a musical. Of course, I am of the philosophy that actor/singer/dancer types don't need to hear themselves in the monitor.

If it was a newer digital board, all of this would have been automated, and the the problem would be whoever set the automation.
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