Sound Design Internship has Nik Engelhart ‘California Dreamin’ | Capital University, Columbus Ohio


    • Sound Design Internship has Nik Engelhart ‘California Dreamin’

      Nik Engelhart

      When you’ve only traveled west as far as Chicago, the extra thousand miles to southern California may seem like a place your career might take you in, say, 10 or 15 years.

      Or if at all.

      For Brecksville, Ohio native and Capital University Music Technology senior Nicole “Nik” Engelhart, the future has flashed forward. She is about to begin a two-week Internship in Pasadena, where she will be co-designing a production of “Man of La Mancha” with award-winning composer/sound designer Martín Carríllo at A Noise Within theater in March. This unlikely internship evolved from her participation in the Entertainment Technology Conference presented by Cirque du Soleil at Capital last October. 

      “It was incredible,” Nik recalls about the ETC conference. “A lot of us made some really solid connections. Apparently my connection took me the furthest distance from Capital – all the way to California.”

      Jeff Gress, associate professor and entertainment technology director at Capital, was instrumental in bringing the conference to campus. He knew the exposure to the world’s most elite talent would have a high impact on our students.

      "Nik is one of the smartest students I’ve worked with." Gress began. "She is unwaveringly calm and polite and puts in the time needed - and then some - to always make sure that her projects are successful. This may be a bit old school, but I would describe Nik in a way an old stage manager described the best kind of performance technician- She is a “belt and suspenders” worker- she double checks and backs up everything she does so that in those moments when things go badly, she is always prepared to be successful." 

      Nik also has learned the soft skills that make all the difference in gaining opportunities. For her, it started with a polite follow up.

      “Right after the Cirque conference, I sent Martín a thank you and told him I was really interested in design and theatre,” Nik said. “He let me know of a production (“Man of La Mancha”) he was involved with in March and invited me to come out.”

      ETC Photo
      Setting the stage at Capital

      The Entertainment Technology Conference at Capital last October provided students with great industry insights from some of the the most elite professionals in the business. One contact made at this conference turned into a unique internship opportunity for Nik Engelhart . She begins a two-week internship at A Noise Within theater in March 2017. 

      More than two-thirds of Capital University students have participated in internships, co-op, student teaching or clinical placement (2016 NSSE High-Impact Practices)

      A Noise Within is celebrating its 25th year and was recently named “one of the nation’s premier classical repertory companies” by the Huffington Post. The award-winning resident company not only produces world-class art, but also runs robust education programs committed to reaching diverse audiences of all ages. 

      Nik welcomes this exciting break from classes in Columbus, and seeing her name on the production’s playbill has begun to sink in.

      “Even though I’ll be working in a much different environment with a completely different type of software I’ve never used before, it’s going to be fun. It’s definitely a learning curve, but it’s going to be great.”

      Working with live sound inside a theatrical venue requires a different way of thinking than recording a concert. Nik pointed out that providing a good user experience in theater is the greatest challenge. While most of the time the audience doesn’t realize what goes on off stage, there have been some pressing moments that required quick decisions.

      She recalled one such instance from her junior year during a production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

      “I don’t know what happened exactly, but (lead character) Caractacus Potts bent down and his earpiece became detached from the microphone, and the mic and the earpiece were right on top of each other so all you heard was this giant, static popping sound. And then the mic failed to work so I had to go through the entire first act without Potts, so I was sweating. At that point there’s not a whole lot you can do except ask the stage manager to switch out the mic.”

      During her internship this spring, she hopes to soak up the production knowledge by working with professional musicians, actors, and technicians in the two weeks she spends with “Man of La Mancha.”

      “I actually prefer live sound (over recording),” Nik says. “It’s ever changing and always challenging. I like the quick pace and excitement and it’s different every single night, unlike a recording session.”

      Once being self-described as shy and socially anxious, Nik has already accumulated an impressive résumé doing what she loves. While carrying a full class load (23 credit hours in fall 2016), she has also freelanced for industry leaders like PromoWest’s EXPRESSLIVE! (formerly LC Pavilion) and Mills James Productions in Columbus. She has been a fixture in several Capital University theatrical productions and plans to work with community theater in Brecksville this summer.

      “I really like the community here at Capital. Everyone’s looking out for each other, especially the faculty, they’re tight with everyone. I know a few professors that would drop everything to help you out. It’s like a family. A Cap Fam.”

      - Nik Engelhart

      Capital’s learning goals were a perfect match for Nik’s talent and passion. Her major and foreseeable career became aligned much differently than even she expected.

      “I was originally a biology major,” she says, “But within the first few days of classes here I changed my major to music technology, and I never looked back.”

      Soon to be a Capital graduate, Nik reflected on what her experience has been like as a student.

      “I really like the community here at Capital. Everyone’s looking out for each other, especially the faculty, they’re tight with everyone. I know a few professors that would drop everything to help you out. It’s like a family. A Cap Fam.”

      Nik’s family in Brecksville also played a part in her pursuit into theater production. Her love for music and theater was nurtured by her mother, who recognized her daughter’s enthusiasm for the arts at an early age.

      “It was the exposure to the arts when I was younger that planted the seed,” Nik says. “When I was really young, my mom used to take me to the Cleveland Orchestra and productions at the Cleveland Play House. I had already spent several years in classical piano, learned to play the flute, and was a violinist. Then by high school, I started getting more into theater and did pit orchestra.”

      Even though Nik has shifted more toward the technical side in directing, managing, and producing musical theatre productions, she seized the opportunity of having a world-class Conservatory of Music at Capital and will be giving a flute recital on February 11, at 2 pm in the Huntington Recital Hall.

      This final semester may be a whirlwind of activity, but Nik says it’s an exciting, project-focused time as she prepares for life outside of college.

      As for the future, she is profoundly optimistic and wants to live in Columbus after graduation. When asked about how she would like to see her career develop, Nik had fun ideas.

      “I have a lot of dream jobs in mind. I love theme parks, so designing the sound for a theme park ride would be really cool. I’d like to go on tour with a band and do sound, and of course, designing and directing sound for theater is still my love.”