Mr. Shippee, who is responsible for live mixing of the music and sound effects Mr. Bianchi creates, said that the sound design for Lovecraft is, “screaming sound effects” aside, “quiet, subtle, just enough to guide how you are interpreting what the actors are saying.”
“It’s a nice dynamic,” he said, “going from that to the thunderous sound effects. This, more than a lot of the shows we’ve done, runs the gamut from pianissimo to fortissimo.”
RadioTheatre has had success with Poe and Lovecraft fanatics—the people who, Mr. Zilinyi said, “go line for line with you” and care deeply about “the pronunciation of Cthulhu.” (The closest human speech organs can come to it, Lovecraft wrote, is something like “Khlul’-hloo.”) Apparently the Lovecraft acolytes count among their ranks the dark mind behind “Your Body Is a Wonderland.”
“John Mayer came in one night,” Mr. Bianchi said, “and he had his hood up, hiding and everything, and said, ‘Aw, man, this is great.’”
But despite its devoted following, RadioTheatre is no gold mine, making just enough to pay for the next production and no more.
“In a sense, we’re doing community theater,” he said, “but Manhattan happens to be our community, so we have 952 other entertainment things to compete with.”
He competes by pushing every moment of every story as far as it will go, and it can be quite effective. On our way to meet the RadioTheatre gang at Stillwater, The Observer was listening to their production of Poe’s “The Black Cat,” a story about an alcoholic pushed to insanity and murder by a sinister, one-eyed feline. Passing the Marble Cemetery on Second Avenue—whose last grave was filled in 1937, the year Lovecraft died—we saw a black cat lurking among the tombstones. Our stomach lurched, our spine tingled, and somewhere in the cosmos, Poe, Lovecraft and Dan Bianchi shared a cackle.