Close your eyes and just listen.
It’s not the way to read this story, but Hewlett resident Melanie Ehrlich wants you to do that should you view the debut performance of the LTM Audio Players, an ensemble troupe of six voice actors and five writers, she assembled in the past year.
Ehrlich, 27, bills herself as an actress, voice-over talent and vocal teacher, who is learning how to be a show business impresario. “I’ve been teaching voice-over classes and encountered really talented people who do not have the same outlet to showcase their work the way theater and TV actors do,” she said in explaining why she founded LTM.
Described on the group’s website as an “ensemble that performs audio plays from up-and-coming writers in NYC and beyond LIVE on stage in NYC for public enjoyment, facilitating an innovative crossover between theatre and voice acting,” LTM (Listen To Melanie) seeks to provide opportunities for voice actors to hone their craft and gain exposure.
Performing since pre-school, Ehrlich, who grew up in Commack, was in the “Three Little Pigs” played the dwarf Sleepy at 7 in a school production and when reading aloud in high school did it n funny voices. “A teacher said ‘you can get paid to do this.’ I took classes, made a demo and transitioned into it,” she said.
That transition has taken her through several film, television and theater roles and more than 200 voice-overs in commercials, animation, video games, narration and other work.
LTM’s summer showcase “Happiness In Unexpected Places” will consist of several original works. Samuel Kurnit’s wife, Caitlin, was talking to a co-worker one day last October and mentioned her husband was looking to do voice-overs. The woman gave Caitlin Ehrlich’s contact information.
Kurnit has been taking lessons from her since January. “I look like a slightly out of shape average late 20s guy, so I’d a have a tough time playing a teenage girl or a young orphan boy on stage or screen (he gets to be both in the LTM show), but if I’m just providing the voice, I can be anything,” he said.
Presented like an old time radio show, the plays will have the performers at microphones, reading and acting out their parts and sound effects will be reproduced live. There will be some visual props, but Ehrlich said that will facilitate making the needed effects.
Havilah Imfeld, a playwright, director and actor, is one of the troupe’s writers. Imfeld said she has experimented with writing scenes that required strong visuals and not much dialogue but never had written anything that only used audio to tell the story. “I didn’t realize what a challenge it would be until I started writing,” she said. “My show opens in the middle of a fight, and includes time jumps. Trying to find the balance of making sure it was clear what was going on, without slogging into the land of too much exposition, was a fun challenge.”
Another challenge for the performers and writers is staging such a show in this age of computer generated effects in movies, TV and on the Broadway stage. ”It’s assisted imagination,” Kurnit said. “Everyone that sees the show is going to walk away with a different memory.” “The experience is still enhanced by seeing it live, and fully engaging without the addition of blocking, sets and costumes,” Imfeld said.
To support its Aug. 27 show at the Actors Temple Theatre in Manhattan, the troupe is seeking sponsors. Visit LTM’s website at http://ltmaudioplayers.com/about.html.
“I am really excited and looking forward to doing this,” Ehrlich said.