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Little-known theater jobs: sound engineer

At “SIX,” Jana Hoglund is responsible for mixing the musical — but what exactly does that mean?

Jana Hoglund’s first theater experience happened so young, they don’t even remember it. Their dad was a scenic painter and designer as well as a theater professor at the University of Mexico; he brought Hoglund to work with a playpen in tow.

Growing up around theater, Hoglund knew they wanted to work in the industry and quickly became involved. They painted for shows during elementary school and moved on to set construction, costumes and running crews in middle and high school. “I crafted a headset out of cardboard,” Hoglund remembered. “At that point, I wanted to be a stage manager, so I think I also carried around a clipboard.” But in their senior year of high school they worked on the sound design of a show called “David and Lisa.” Having studied and enjoyed music all their life, “it seemed very natural to pursue sound design and audio engineering.”

Hoglund studied theater design and technology, with a minor in music, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Later, they earned a master’s in sound design from the Yale School of Drama. Hoglund made their Broadway debut as the assistant sound designer on 2011’s “Million Dollar Quartet,” but then shifted to working on show crew — mixing and deck sound duties (more on that later) — instead of design work.

Since then, Hoglund has engineered the sound on shows like “Anastasia” and operated deck sound on Broadway musicals like “Ain’t Too Proud,” “A Strange Loop” and “Parade.” Now, Hoglund mixes the sound eight shows a week at the pop concert-style “SIX.” Here, Hoglund details exactly what mixing is and how it impacts the audience experience.

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