In yesterday’s article, I wrote a paean to the attributes of the iPod.
I also wrote that Filipino magicians and Pinoy party hosts are using this nifty little device not only for status symbol but also for something useful.
Ironically, when we staged Magic ‘To (The Next Level) at the Philamlife theater last September 8, we used a laptop, not an iPod, as our main music player. Another laptop with all our pre-programmed music was on standby in case something unexpected happened to the first. The iPod was only our third back-up. Two DVD/CD players were also on hand as our quadruple and quintuple back-ups.
If you think we are a bunch of paranoid nutcases for having lined up all those back-ups, you are right. But that’s another story for another time.
Let me, instead, explain why we opted for the laptop as our main music player.
The concept of our full-evening show required that we did away with the MCs. (That’s correct. The two Magic ‘To shows had no MCs, a concept we have the distinction of introducing first in Philippine magic.)
We moved the show forward, bridged acts, got performers/props/sets into and out of the stage without an MC killing the time. Precision music/lights/curtains manipulations did all this for us. The script took weeks to write, since we could not get the most ideal flow of acts right away. About six hours before the show, I was still re-writing the script.
Now, you understand why we in the creative team were all nervous wrecks 30 minutes before the show. That also is another story for another time.
All the acts in the 2 1/2-hour Magic ‘To (The Next Level) were musically scored, both the silent and the talking parts. Some acts had multiple-selection scoring that required us to skip from one song to another and then back again.
Our finale number, for example, needed five songs. Because audience members were brought on stage to participate in the act, the music could not be pre-cut. We found it impossible to fit a pre-cut selection to the performance in a way that would have the last note strike at the moment of the re-appearance of the eight vanished girls. We had to edit (stop/cue/loop/skip) music live as we went along.
That being the case, we realized that the show would stand and fall on how well we cued and played the music.
Luckily, on the week we started rehearsals, my sister-in-law (who was working abroad) gifted me with an 80Gb/1Gb laptop. Everyone at IMC, even the married members, wanted to marry my sister-in-law for giving me a laptop that we could use in our show.
The program we used was Windows Media Player. It allowed us to input the entire show’s musical score, edit, reload or loop music, and jump from one selection to another (a feature difficult to accomplish in iPod) with nary an obtrusive audible sign of live editing.
While I have high praises for the laptop for theater performances, I don’t recommend its use for birthday party shows. I tried using it in one birthday party and saw the risk of using it in that type of venue. With children running around, it’s just a matter of time before a kid would accidentally topple the table and bring the laptop crashing on the floor.