Almost forty years ago, a shy young woman and first-time theater entrepreneur, I stood for the first time at the apex of the curve that defines center stage at the St. George, and had a conversation with my husband, the head entrepreneur, in the balcony. I can’t remember what I said, but it sounded good. Each time I found myself on that sweet spot, center stage, a little more shyness melted away. How can a space six stories high seem intimate? There were 2672 seats in the auditorium. But full or empty — and most of those seats were empty most of the time--there wasn’t so much as a hint of an echo in the hall.
This was a fortunate thing, considering the sound equipment we didn’t own — even a mic. When the Paper Bag Players, a children’s theater troupe, played to an almost-packed house completely unamplified, the acoustics were so good almost nobody noticed.
One morning before showtime, I stood in my favorite spot on the stage, gazing dreamily up at the dome. A colleague standing in front of the projection booth, six stories above me and almost a football-field away, asked what I wanted for lunch. “Tunafish on Rye with mayo,” I replied, almost sotto voce — lost in fantasies of one kind or another, I had barely mumbled my request. No problem, the sandwich got ordered.
That same year, 1976, Avery Fisher Hall, at Lincoln Center, underwent the first in a series of renovations to solve acoustical problems that had plagued it since its opening in 1962, and, to some degree, still do.
In other words, while the New York Philharmonic was making the best of a bad acoustical deal, I ordered my tunafish sandwich, without benefit of a mic.