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'Whisper House': Ghosts in the machine

January 16, 2010 |  8:15 am

Ghosts It's a technical staple of the modern Broadway musical: Not altogether invisibly, a tiny microphone is taped to the performers' heads or attached behind their ears, so that when they start singing, their voices are magically amplified.

But David Poe, who plays a singing ghost in Duncan Sheik's and Kyle Jarrow's new musical, "Whisper House," was having none of it. Real rock and rollers, he said, pick up microphones when they're performing. And so the creative team behind the world premiere of the musical at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre took a look at the show's lighthouse set and started fashioning set dressing -- a bedroom lamp in one scene -- into microphones. When Poe and his other leading ghost, Holly Brook, now sing, they look very much like modern rockers.

And yet the show's story is set decades ago -- in the midst of World War II panic. Can modern music enliven a period drama? It worked brilliantly in Sheik's and Steve Sater's "Spring Awakening." Audiences will soon find out if the same is true in "Whisper House."

Here's an in-depth look at the show from Sunday's Arts & Books section.

-- John Horn

Photo: David Poe and Holly Brook, the two ghosts in the new musical "Whisper House," sing during a run-through at the Old Globe. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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