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Narrator Michael Crouch went to Ithaca College for musical theater, but nearing the end of his program he changed his mind. “I didn’t love it enough to build a life around it,” he says. He still wanted to be creative, still wanted to act, so he began to look into voice-over work. “It stole my heart. I love it!”
A few years later, his friend, narrator Christina Delaine, recommended taking Paul Ruben’s class on audiobook narration. Ruben, an audiobook director, producer, and coach, is, according to Crouch, “awesome!” He continues, “Paul is all about finding the life beneath and around the words of an audiobook and making discoveries as you narrate.”
Crouch balances preparation with studio spontaneity in a process he thinks of as connect-the-dots. “The words themselves are a series of dots; my preparation connects the dots and creates a framework. Then, once I’m in the studio, in the moment, I fill in the colors and the shapes. Preparation allows me to feel rooted in the story, so I can feel confident in my moment-to-moment work.”
In two years of recording, Crouch has put into practice all he’s learned, winning Earphone Awards for his excellence, especially in children’s and YA audios. “YA is a nice niche for me because I can pull off a youthful sound but bring adult chops to it.”
Crouch is expert at creating nuance, often by uniting opposites. He certainly did this while narrating the part of Dill, one of three characters in Jeff Zentner’s THE SERPENT KING. “The writing is from Dill’s point of view in the third person, and the author uses italics to voice Dill’s first-person thoughts. It was an interesting challenge to contrast his voiced thoughts with the dialogue and narrative.”
THE SERPENT KING was one of Crouch’s two favorite narration projects; the other was Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. “That main character is near and dear to my heart. It’s a touching story, but when I first read it, I laughed out loud many times. I missed both those heroes when the recording sessions were over. Some jobs are just jobs, but those characters lingered and have a special place in my heart.”
Crouch has a home studio where he has recorded tons of auditions, anime voices, and thirty-second commercials. But he’s never done an audiobook at home. “Preparing an audiobook for performance is a huge enough task on its own. If I have a choice, I’d rather not take on additional roles. Being in front of an engineer or director in a studio makes me a little nervous, and when I’m put on the spot, my best work comes out. If I were at home, I might be a little too comfortable.”--Susie Wilde[JUNE/ JULY 2015]
Photo by Christine Cain-Weidner
© AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
Photo by Dennis J. Photography
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