By Don Fisher ’75
Over two cold February days in a Center City recording studio, the cast and band of Wishful Sinking warmed things up, laying down this year’s Show Recording.
“The music and lyrics of this show are really vibrant, exciting and clever,” commented senior Kevin Seelaus ’14. “We have fun with the show every night we perform it, but you’re always doing several things at the same time when you’re on stage. It was really a pleasure to focus in on the music during this recording session and get it just right.”
Wishful Sinking’s music and lyrics were written and orchestrated by long-time Mask and Wig composer Neil Radisch ’86. Additional lyrics were provided by the company’s writing staff, led by Will Seife ’14.
“For me, the most interesting part of the recording is the environment in which it is done,” commented Radisch. “The show’s schedule and student’s academic commitments do not allow us the luxury of recording over days and weeks. The entire album has to be recorded in a single weekend. This time pressure also eliminates the option of recording in the usual manner. There is not enough time for us to go track-by-track, instrument-by-instrument. Each song has to be captured in just a few takes, with everyone performing together.
“We were very fortunate to find Third Story Recording and Scott Herzog, Penn ’77, just up Walnut Street, close to Penn. They are one of the few facilities that has a room big enough so that the entire cast and band can be recorded together. It’s not just more efficient for us, but gives our recording the feel of the live show.”
Seife noted that “Collaborating with Neil on this was a really interesting learning experience. It began with a songwriting workshop last summer and evolved over the next six months. We had a regular give and take on the lyrics and this is one of the strengths of our Club.”
Nick Volpe ’14, Bandleader commented “The recording process was really enjoyable this year. Both the cast and the band came with a great attitude and really brought their A games.
“Recording, though tedious in some moments, is absolutely invaluable for us. It gives us the opportunity to have a permanent form of the show into which we put so much effort.
“I love working with Scott, whose studio is filled with souvenirs of a storied recording history. His equipment and studio are state of the art, and now that we’ve worked with him for a few years he really knows what it takes for Mask and Wig to sound its best.
“Lastly, it was great to have Mike Golisano ‘05 there, whose expertise in drum recording and the Mask and Wig Band in general added a ton of value over the course of the weekend.”
“The wonderful thing about recording The Mask and Wig Cast Albums,” according to Herzog, “is that we do it like all the classic Verve records were made in the 40’s and 50’s, artists like The Count Basie Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, recording everyone, all at once, no such thing as an ‘overdub’.”
Third Story Recording is the oldest continuously operating recording studio in Philadelphia, just up the street from Penn, and has recorded Gold & Platinum records by artists and record labels in all genres of music. Artists include Patti Labelle,The Dead Milkmen, Fall Out Boy, Subpop Records, John Legend, The Disco Biscuits, Tori Amos, Tower of Power, Grover Washington, Jr., and now, The Mask and Wig Club.