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In Profile: Sound Designer Mick Potter & His Work With Andrew Lloyd Weber

One of the premier sound designers in the UK and first in line for all of Weber’s productions over the better part of the last decade, but the success he’s found over t...

By Kevin Young October 22, 2009

Sound Designer Mick Potter in a familiar position at a Yamaha PM1D digital console at Front Of House of a recent theatrical project

“I always knew I wanted to work in the music industry, but I never wanted to be a musician,” says UK-based Sound Designer Mick Potter. “When I was 13 or 14 I always could name who produced and mixed a record. I was always interested in that side of it. The main people I could name in theater, in my teens, were orchestrators and sound designers.”

It was this interest, the 45-year-old, Yorkshire-born Potter explains, that initially prompted his desire to work in the record industry. Freshly inspired by the work of sound designer/record producer Martin Levan, and the ongoing evolution of sound reinforcement technology for live theater, he ultimately switched gears to pursue a career in live theater.

After graduating with a degree in Creative Design at London’s Central School of Art and Design, Potter landed a spot as mixer for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s productions of Cats, Song and Dance, and Starlight Express.

“It was just about the time that some of the first really huge modern musicals were hitting the stage,” he recalls. “There was all this fantastic new technology. It was kind of the first time you could start to recreate serious quality, creative sound in a live environment.”

After honing his chops as a freelancer, Potter found work exclusively as a sound designer; first taking over the design helm for Weber on his production of Bombay Dreams in 2002 before moving on to revamp the design on the Vegas installment of Phantom of the Opera and redoing the London and New York productions when their respective runs continued well in excess of previous expectations.

Since then he’s become one of the premier sound designers in the UK and first in line for all of Weber’s productions over the better part of the last decade. The success he’s found over time hasn’t dulled his enthusiasm or his work ethic, though.

“It’s an odd job. You’re not working nine to five. You’re don’t get paid for every time you clock in. Or for doing schematic drawings, mixing stuff in Pro Tools, going to endless meetings. You’re only as good as your last show, no matter what your reputation might be,” he laughs.

Looking back at the work he’s done, Potter has little to worry about. His resume reads like a laundry list of some of the most popular musical productions in recent memory: Jesus Christ Superstar in London, the world premieres of Bombay Dreams both London and New York, Hair in London; the previously mentioned Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas, New York and London; as well as Evita, The Sound Of Music and the London production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Mick Potter with his Olivier Award (click to enlarge)

Along the way he’s also received the prestigious Olivier Award for Best Sound Design in 2005.

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“It may seem an odd thing to say, but there’s a certain kind of musical I seem to do. I’ve never done un-amplified, naturalistic musicals, and I’ve never done a play.”

Still, his overall preference tends toward productions that possess a particular blend of cinematic grandness and intimacy, where the sound design is a key aspect of production and the show poses the challenge of finding the perfect balance between a complex score and a more naturalistic quality.


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About Kevin

Kevin Young
Kevin Young

Freelance Music and Tech Writer, Professional Musician and Composer
Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.

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