Chris L’Hommedieu in his home studio Submitted photo

Chris L’Hommedieu is a lawyer by trade, but he’s also an avid member of Community Little Theatre and well . . . things just haven’t been great in the theater world since COVID-19 reared its hideous head.

Chris L’Hommedieu

Chris got to thinking. A show for Valentine’s Day would be just the thing. Bring out a whole bunch of performers, have them read historic love letters and let them croon tunes appropriate for the holiday and there you have it, a nice, joyous event the whole community can enjoy.

Of course in the era of COVID, nothing is that simple: It had to all be recorded. Chris knew that to make that happen, he’d have to keep social distancing in mind and that would mean bringing in his performers separately.

With that done, he’d have to edit it all together into an actual production. And for the songs presented like a chorus of voices, he’d have to meld all those voices together. All of it would take significant knowledge of recording software, digital audio workstations, video platforms. Chris, who does have some experience with audio and video editing, made it work, but the project was anything but simple. First, he had to manage 30 people for the show, including a dozen singers. Then he had to get his butt into a chair and try to figure out what’s new in the world of recording and video manipulation.

I’ll never be able to describe his process. Fortunately, we caught up with Chris himself and had him explain in detail how CLT’s “Love Songs and Love Letters” came to be.

How did you come up with this idea? So about four or five months ago, I was sitting thinking, wow, we’re not doing anything as a theater. And nobody is because of COVID. And we’re all stuck in our houses, and we can’t do anything. So I said, what if we do a show where everybody shows up one at a time in the theater? And so I proposed it to the board and they approved it. And we put together a set just as though it was a regular show. We did the lighting and the sound design and had everybody come in one at a time.

What were some of the difficulties making this happen? So, I did most of the backing tracks at home in my my studio. I do music, I do video. And so I recorded the music. And I brought it in and I had them sing their pieces one at a time, which is incredibly difficult. And I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be. Because the first two or three people had no reference. We’re just trying to get it right. And everybody else had to build on that.

What does the show entail? I put together a show with about 13 songs and it’s called “Love Songs and Love Letters.” It’s a bunch of love songs — Broadway and popular songs — and love letters written by people like (President Richard) Nixon and (President Ronald) Reagan and other very famous people who wrote these incredibly beautiful love letters.

What are you using for equipment to do this? Oh, my God, I can’t even tell you. So I haven’t recorded music since I was about 21. Back in the day, I used a Tascam four-track recorder. And then I advanced to an eight-track reel to reel in the early ’90s. And then I haven’t touched anything since then. So I proposed this project without having any of the equipment that I needed. And they said, “Sure, Chris, do it.” And I said, “Oh, I’ve got to go get the equipment.” So I went to Amazon, which is where we all go. And I got a 32-track recorder. I got these compressor microphones. I got everything I needed to make it work. And I learned how to use them. I watched so many YouTube videos it was unbelievable. I learned how to use a DAW (digital audio workstation). I downloaded Cakewalk (music production software) and learned how to use that. And so I set it up so that I did the back tracks and we set up people to show up one person . . . at one hour intervals on a weekend. And they all came in and they sang their parts and I put them all together.

Is this kind of performance becoming more common? So on Saturday, I was going through my paces doing all the video editing stuff — which is enormously time consuming. And I said to my wife, I’ve got to get a shower. So I got in the shower and turned on Maine Public Radio, which is what I always do in the shower. And the minute I got in there, they were doing a program about this choir that did a song where they all recorded their voices separately and then put them all together.

Did everyone have fun doing this? People are really pretty wild about the fact that you can actually do this. And yeah, it was so much fun, and I got some families together. We have a sister duo who did an incredible amount of music with their parents. And so we put their parents in the audience and recorded them out there. They were the only people in the theater.

Are you just about finished? So on Saturday, we’re going to do the final touches. We’re going to shoot the song at different locations around the city. I was thinking Great Falls, down by the canal, out by the cathedral. . . . And those will be the final touches.

L/A Community Little Theater’s “Love Songs and Love Letters” will be available for viewing at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12, 13 and 14. The shows can be accessed through the L/A Community Little Theatre webpage at laclt.com. For more about the show or to learn about the volunteers who helped make it happen, visit the LACLT Facebook page.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.