Jonathan Deans is currently juggling sending his most recent hit, Waitress, out on tour while designing new projects for long time collaborator Cirque du Soleil, new Musicals and teaching at UCSD. A native Brit, he began his career as an actor, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company at fifteen. He then later discovered sound, and as a young man worked for both Pye and Morgan recording studios before finding a home at Autograph Sound. He mixed A Chorus Line at the Drury Lane Theater, greatly impressing the designer, Abe Jacob, who became a life changing mentor. After extensive mix experience Jonathan transitioned into design, and since crossing the pond his Broadway credits include Waitress, Finding Neverland, Pippin, Spider Man: Turn off the Dark, Young Frankenstein, Beauty and The Beast, Parade, Fosse, Ragtime and more. Jonathan is known for innovative systems, and collaborates not only with artists but also manufacturers to develop design solutions. Michael Jackson’s ONE, LOVE, KA, OVO, Corteo and O are only a few of the fifteen shows Jonathan has designed for Cirque du Soleil.
The following questions were answered in early October of 2017.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I am in Cleveland setting up the national tour of Waitress. Future work is a new Cirque du Soleil permanent show, a few NYC shows and workshops and lecturing at UCSD.
What is the most exciting thing happening this season that you are not working on?
Harry Potter in NYC.
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
Born south west of London, by the sea – and I now live in La Jolla California, by the sea Mr Todd.
Describe one of your most successful collaborations in the theater. How or why was it successful?
Beatles ‘LOVE’(with Cirque du Soleil). All of the creative team worked extremely well together with the goal having a clear focus.
You have had a long and successful career. What piece of advice would you give to those starting out in the field?
Be honest, be kind, be patient, look for those hidden sonic gems and don’t ever get tech-y.
What was the one thing you wish you’d done when you were first starting out?
Had a better contract/deal and in writing when I was living in England.
Who or what makes up your support structure?
What is your favorite piece of music at the moment?
Music by Infected Mushroom and Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet, Dance of the Knights.
Name a pet production peeve.
Time and not having any Earl Grey Tea bags
What is your favorite meal during or before tech?
Munster Cheese and Coleslaw Sandwich with lots of pepper.
Do you play an instrument?
Having dyslexia with black on white did not help but No. I have tried many times but I have had the pleasure to work with many amazing musicians, so it’s best to leave it up to them to make the sound for me to try and capture.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be involved in theatrical sound?
I was 18 but I had a passion for electronics that made or recorded sound from about 11 years old.
Does your family understand what you do?
Mum and Dad – not really. But they were happy that it kept me off the streets.
Did you have a sound design or composition mentor? If so, how did they help or guide you?
Abe Jacob! And he always comes to see my NYC shows.
Where do you find inspiration?
Nothing beats being immersed in Sound. Inspiration is found in mixing, listening and silence.
Was there a show or experience that drew you to sound design or composition?
Jesus Christ Superstar in the theater and Pink Floyd “The Wall’ at Wembley Stadium.
What programs are we likely to find open on your computer?
Email, Calendar, Excel, Vectorworks, Adobe XD and when needed Protools along with Soundminer.
Was there a piece or type of gear or program that revolutionized how you work?
I use to make mechanical gear to help me mix and run a show as a mixer and then designer. I had many thoughts and experiences and then designing productions at Universal studios LA, helped me realize many ideas that I had been wrestling with. Their were products which I felt were needed so I started making them because everyone else had turned me down.
If you couldn’t have a career in a field related to this one, what would you want to do?
Be a Chef.
What do you hope TSDCA can accomplish?
To be a part of a Community that shares information and ideas