Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

alparrott

Platinum Member
Well, it's over, the drums are home, and I'm happy to say we sold out every night of the last five shows. Got some rave reviews from theater folks and musicians, including some who've played the show before.

If you've ever wanted to try musical theater percussion, check out what your local community theater groups are doing. It has always been a rewarding and fun experience for me and I've learned a lot with every show, too.

Favorite songs from this show have been the title track, "Skid Row", "Git It", "Mushnik & Son," "Da-Doo", "Suddenly Seymour", "The Meek Shall Inherit", "Suppertime", and "Finale Ultimo" (yeah, I know, that's almost half the songlist! It's just that good a show.)

The one song I never really warmed up to was "You Never Know". The rhumba feel was very challenging for the vocalists and there was always a lot of push and pull.

Now to run some bleach through my head to cleanse the palate, and on to the next musical venture!
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Are you all on IEMs? I can't clearly see from the picture. Just wondering if a more "grouped" setup would be helpful in not.
I am using IEMs (as is my custom for any gig with any amplification), and keys 2 has headphones available since he is right next to me; sometimes he slips them on for upbeat numbers where I'm laying into the kit a little harder. Everyone else has wedges in front of them. I argued that going all headphones would drastically lower the backstage volume, but there's no telling some people, I suppose. To be fair, the theater is not really optimal for live music performances to begin with - the sound system is antediluvian, and there's vents running directly over us that open into the theater, which means direct sound leakage.

Grouping up is not possible in the space, because we all have to be able to see the one monitor provided, plus the area in front of us also serves as a passthrough for actors.

I've noticed guitarists and bass players seem to have the most difficulty going to IEMs; something about the feeling of pure volume hitting their body while performing (I get it; playing drums as hard as you can feels better than playing as softly as you can). But eventually folks learn it's as much, if not more, about the audience experience than what you get out of it.

EDIT: Here's a video walkthrough of the kit that I shot yesterday between shows.
 
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Andy

Administrator
From yesterday's show, here's the full lineup in action. (The video I posted earlier has subs for winds and keys 2 missing.)

L-R: Angela (winds), Ted (guitar), Steve (bass), Anna (piano/MD), Brady (keys 2), me (I hit things).
Are you all on IEMs? I can't clearly see from the picture. Just wondering if a more "grouped" setup would be helpful in not.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
From yesterday's show, here's the full lineup in action. (The video I posted earlier has subs for winds and keys 2 missing.)

L-R: Angela (winds), Ted (guitar), Steve (bass), Anna (piano/MD), Brady (keys 2), me (I hit things).
 

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alparrott

Platinum Member
Nice..!

That looks like a very nice, atmospheric and cozy way of playing a gig in my opinion..

Also sounds like a pretty big audience and they sound enthusiastic too..
It was a sold out crowd, and they were in the next room - which clues you in to how loud the applause was.

We've been having some real challenges with the space - the sound system is ancient, and the playhouse was never really meant to have a band in it. The offstage spot where we're set up leaks sound into the theater, so the patrons on that side of the theater were complaining that what they could hear from next door was overpowering the vocals from the actors. We've been futzing ith it all week, and hopefully we'll fix it before closing night!
 
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oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
Nice..!

That looks like a very nice, atmospheric and cozy way of playing a gig in my opinion..

Also sounds like a pretty big audience and they sound enthusiastic too..
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
So here is a video of the band playing through the prologue and title song. You won't hear much vocals in the mix, just musical goodness. We had two wind players subbing for our usual one wind player, and Keys 2 was out for the first act... but it still sounds okay. Phone video and audio, sorry.

https://youtu.be/KWmQNqHuDls
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
By the way, one challenge I discovered with my new Guru snare is that standard mike clips don't work on S-hoops very well. For opening night I made do by reversing the clip, but that wasn't optimal - it pointed the mike across the head instead of at the center. So on Friday night, I brought in the old tried-and-true homemade drum mike mount - a gooseneck and a multi-clamp.
 

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alparrott

Platinum Member
Since today's the last day of the first break, here's an apropos question I got asked recently: "Aren't you afraid of getting rusty on your days off?" And the short answer is, yes - I'm PETRIFIED of it! That's why I do my best not to get rusty. I'm still reviewing my notes from last week's performances, listening to the music to keep me "in the mood", and psyching myself up to get back behind the kit. My spare kit is set up at home, and I'll be warming up on it tonight and tomorrow afternoon before heading to the theater. The band will be getting together a little early on Thursday night to go over some of our most notoriously difficult bits before the audience arrives.

Besides, I'm still basking in the compliments from last week's shows - not the audience's compliments, which are nice, but the actors' comments, which are really great to get. "You keep up all in line and keep the tempo up!" "We love it when you push us and don't let us drag!" "We wouldn't have a show without you!" When you're hidden in the back of the theater without anyone seeing you, that sort of recognition is truly nice.

I'll be shooting some video of the opening number this week - hopefully it turns out any good in the dark band room!
 

Andy

Administrator
Great to hear you're getting through this mammoth task, & good to have a bit of walnut love in the vibe too :)
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Just curious, but will there be a video or something made from this production..?

I would like to see and hear that..
There's some video with no audio so far - there likely won't be a full video made (licensing, you know). I am planning on having someone do a "backstage" video of me one of these evenings playing through one of the songs - and when I do, I'll post it here. Stay tuned!
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
Just curious, but will there be a video or something made from this production..?

I would like to see and hear that..
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Well, opening night has come and gone. As is typical with a musical, there's certain tunes in the show that have gelled nicely and others that continue to challenge us collectively. In the first column are several of the more popular, catchy tunes such as the title track, "Feed Me (Get It)", and "Suddenly Seymour". In the second column are the more technical and film-score-like songs, such as "Closed for Renovation", "Mushnik & Son", and "Call Back In The Morning". I would say we're 90-95% of the way there - with one big, unmistakable twist.

A key actor fell ill the day of the last dress rehearsal (like, hospital ill) and was not able to make it to the rehearsal or to opening night. His return is actually uncertain. One of the co-directors (himself a skilled actor and singer) has stepped in to fill the role, but it has been a huge shift for the production to accommodate.

But the show goes on - and with another addition: My Guru snare did arrive, not in time for final dress rehearsal, but certainly in time for opening night. This gives me the opportunity to play it for several hours each week in a natural range of styles and volumes, by the end of which I hope to share my (so far amazing) experience with you in another post. As a result of the marvelous timing with which this incredible instrument fit into my schedule, I decided to name her "Audrey" after two of the production's lead characters. Here she is in all her glory, riding herd on my Standards.
 

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alparrott

Platinum Member
Haven't posted much in this thread lately, so an update:

Last week had four rehearsals - the sitzprobe (where the actors sing along with the band for the first time, no rehearsals of lines outside of cues, sitting or standing), a separate Act I and Act II tech rehearsal, and a full run-through. I had to use rods and brushes for the sitzprobe so as not to blast the actors out of the room, and the tech rehearsals really were trying because all the sound levels, including actor mikes, were being ironed out. More than once I had to take off headphones mid-song and do my best with the room sound because a mike or signal was feeding back into my headphones.

By Thursday night's full runthrough, most of that nonsense had settled down and we could concentrate on making the whole runthrough work. And it went pretty well, allaying most of my fears about hitting all my musical marks.

The band had three days off (mostly reserved for a previously scheduled gig and two days of knocking honey-do lists down), but Monday evening we start the first of three dress rehearsals, with the third intended as a family and friends night. Then opening night is Thursday, with four shows this weekend and the next weeked, and three on closing weekend, plus possibly callbacks. By the way, I have a day job!

Great news is that I'll have my new Guru snare in time for the last dress rehearsal and of course opening night!
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
So we're loaded in and in the space. The band is set up adjacent to the stage in a large area off stage left, with TV monitors for the stage. Shortly there will be a short wall built between the band space and the main walkway backstage to prevent tripping and falls.

It's a huge space - the largest I've ever been blessed with in a show! In the room picture we will be set up (left to right) wind player (flute/clarinet/sax), guitar/mandolin, bass player, key 1/MD, key 2, me (facing the rest of the band). The actor voicing the plant will be back here somewhere with us as well.

The setup didn't change much at all from my initial setup. In the drivers' view pictures you can see my personal mixer on the right side with a small amp for reinforcing the electronic pads, which we decided we didn't need. So I ended up moving the mixer to the left of the e-pads and plugging into the back of the main speaker next to my kit as you can see in the room view photo.

And a special sneak preview of the plant "Audrey II" in all its stages - hand puppet (backstage), hand puppet on the set windowsill, mid-size ("Feed Me"), and the full-size man-eating costume (currently without anyone in it). Usually community productions rent these puppets and props, but our local theater company made these themselves - they look incredible!
 

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alparrott

Platinum Member
I’m starting to think I’m going to have to break down and get one of those systems for doing these kinds of gigs.
Electronics, in my opinion, are a great way of playing more of the book without breaking the bank or having to lug a metric ton of instruments around. Also much more reasonable space-wise. Last night at rehearsal I didn't have the electronics with me, but I was in a school band room. The logistics involved to have just a pair of congas and a set of temple blocks nearby were silly even with all the room in the world.
 
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