By Sean M. McCord

Mill Mountain Theatre & Hollins Playwright's Lab

Winter Festival of New Works 2020

Presented at KCACTF Region IV

Directed by Todd Ristau


Moving is a three act play written by Sean M. McCord that takes place in 1985, 2005, and 2015. The show tells the story of all the people that have lived in an LA house over the past 30 years. Although the show didn't have a lot of internal sound cues, the Pre-Show and the transition music were essential to the success of the play. As the Sound Designer, I was responsible for representing the work of our dramaturg and the passage of time. In order to set the scene of the top of the show, I created an authentic LA 1985 Radio Show in the style of Casey Kasem for the Pre-Show. Additionally, between the acts, I made compilations that featured at least one song from Billboard Top 100 Hits Chart of each year 1985-->2005 and 2005-->2015. Additionally, the playwright was a huge fan of Billy Joel, so in honor of his show being staged for the first time I made sure to include several Billy Joel songs throughout the design, including Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) and The Stranger.

Pre-Show: 1985 Radio Station

As a Sound Designer, my favorite part of the design is almost always the Pre-Show. For this show I saw an opportunity. Todd Ristau and I knew we wanted to start the show off with a clip of a radio station to easily establish the year. So I decided to create a realistic radio station that played as the audience members entered the space. I took a lot of inspiration from Casey Kasem’s America’s Top 40 in the voices of the DJs and the formatting of the music played on the station. I learned that most songs crossfade into each other while the DJ talks over the instrumental intros to the songs. Since it was 1985, I made sure to include radio ads and weather updates. All of the DJ dialogue was written by me to fit the mood of the show. All of the artists in the Pre-Show playlist were featured in the Billboards Top 100 Hits Chart in 1985, but I made sure to not just pick the first 10 songs on the list. Instead I researched songs by those artists released in the same year that better fit the mood of the show, including several break-up songs since the opening of the show is the protagonist experiencing the aftermath of a bad break-up. When we presented the show at KCACTF (Region IV), the respondents told me that the Pre-Show brought feelings of nostalgia about their childhood and established the atmosphere for the rest of the play. 

Pre-Show Clip #1
00:00 / 00:23
Pre-Show Clip #2
00:00 / 00:23
Pre-Show Clip #3
00:00 / 00:27
First Cue of the Show
00:00 / 00:32

Act Transition Mashups

In our initial meetings, Todd Ristau and I talked about how the sound had to demonstrate the passage of time from 1985 to 2005 and 2005 to 2015 between acts to prevent confusion so that the audience could easily transition from act to act. We went through several different versions of these mashups, including some that were programmed in QLab. Eventually, I decided to create the files in Adobe Audition. I did research on the Billboard Top 100 Hits Chart of each year from 1985 to 2015. Although I didn’t use the most popular song of each year, I tried to use songs that would be recognizable to the majority of audience members. It was fun to come to performances and hear the cast and crew singing along to the songs they all knew by heart.

Act 2 Transition (1985-2005)

Act 2 TransitionAnna Johnson
00:00 / 04:31

Songs Included in the Mashup: 

  • Things Can Only Get Better - Howard Jones (1985) 

  • Summer of ‘69 - Bryan Adams (1984) 

  • Movin’ on Up - Primal Scream (1991)

  • It’s Raining Men - The Weather Girls (1982)

  • We Didn’t Start the Fire - Billy Joel (1989)

  • Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana (1991)

  • Ironic - Alanis Morissette (1995)

  • Blue (Da Ba Dee) - Eiffel 65 (1998)

  • I’m Too Sexy - Right Said Fred (1992)

  • The Old Apartment - Barenaked Ladies (1996)

  • Wonderwall - Oasis (1995)

  • Only Wanna Be With You - Hootie & The Blowfish (1994)

  • Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani (2004)

  • All Star - Smash Mouth (1999)

  • Feel Good Inc. - The Gorillaz (2005)

  • Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!) - Blu Cantrell (2001)

  • Mr. Brightside - The Killers (2004)

Act 3 Transition (2005-2015)

Songs Included in the Mashup: 

  • I’m A Mess - Ed Sheeran (2014)

  • Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield (2005)

  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day (2004) 

  • I Kissed A Girl - Katy Perry (2008)

  • I Gotta Feeling - The Black Eyed Peas (2009)

  • I Write Sins Not Tragedies - Panic At The Disco (2005)

  • Cooler Than Me - Mike Posner (2009)

  • You Belong With Me - Taylor Swift (2008)

  • TiK ToK - Ke$ha (2010)

  • I’m Yours - Jason Mraz (2008)

  • We Are Young - fun., Janelle Monáe (2012)

  • Let Her Go - Passenger (2013)

  • Rolling In The Deep - Adele (2011)

  • Somebody That I Used To Know - Gotye, Kimbra (2011)

  • Viva La Vida - Coldplay (2008)

  • Payphone - Maroon 5, Wiz Khalifa (2012)

  • Stitches - Shawn Mendes (2015)

Act 3 TransitionAnna Johnson
00:00 / 03:38