Sound Career on Broadway Could Bring Tony
Brian Ronan '84 swept the steps and fetched the coffee for his Broadway bosses as an intern during his Oswego days. Come next Sunday, he may be polishing his first Tony Award.
Ronan earned a pair of nominations doing sound design for two of Broadway's hottest musicals, "Book of Mormon" and "Anything Goes."
Ronan said he feels blessed just to be in the business, let alone be considered for its highest honor. The nods in the "Best Sound Design in a Musical" category are the culmination of more than 25 years in theatre.
"I think every show has a voice of its own," said Ronan, who was nominated in the same category for "Next to Normal" in 2009. "There are classic musicals, rock musicals, straight plays; all of these shows have a look and a sound that's unlike any other.
"Part of my job is to find that sound and bring it forward to the audience," he said.
A Broadway house is not a home for performers until the sound design and lighting crews get through with it — "just an empty room," Ronan said. He and his crew set up the sound and communications systems for each performance: everything from the mixing board to the backstage headsets.
A Queens native, Ronan "bumped into" theatre by accident while studying at Chaminade University in Hawaii, where an art professor recruited him to help on the set. He transferred to Oswego the following year and continued his theatrical pursuits.
Some of his most valuable experience came from his time with Campus Lighting, an independent, student-run entity that gave him a feel for the business side of performance. He made some of his first Broadway connections as an intern at Masque Sound.
"I found it was very similar to sports," said Ronan, who was a high school athlete. "You have one chance to execute and when you do well, they applaud.
"[It] is performance," he said. "Not necessarily under the spotlight, but if you mess up, you're going to hear about it."
He has two chances to hear his name called June 12.
— Shane M. Liebler
Brian Ronan '84
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