Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

alparrott

Platinum Member
Musical pit drumming is very near and dear to my heart, and I was gutted when my local theatre company "went a different direction" a few years back and I stopped getting calls for productions. Fortunately, I still have a pretty good reputation and just got picked up for an eleven-show run of "Little Shop of Horrors" this fall. I'll be using this thread as my show diary, as usual.

The next couple of weeks will be filled with score analysis, woodshedding, percussion sourcing, and pad programming... and I can't wait!
 

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Morrisman

Platinum Member
No different than concert or orchestral scores.
One big difference - the one score contains dozens of instruments, often several at once. An orchestra score would normally be split amongst 3-4 players. This is what makes it especially challenging.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
One big difference - the one score contains dozens of instruments, often several at once. An orchestra score would normally be split amongst 3-4 players. This is what makes it especially challenging.
concert encompasses percussion ensemble and other scores where percussionists play more than one thing in a song, but I get your point.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Separate drum scores are not rare in the theatre world, unless the producer is trying to cut costs by only ordering the conductor score or piano score. There's also a percussion score, which I plan to merge with the drum score if and where it makes sense to do so.

I've already done a bit of preliminary research and score review to determine what percussion will be needed (practical or electronic), and the kit instruments needed. The character of the music cries out for my Ludwigs for a woody, vintage sound; the challenge there is that most theatre scores assume at minimum a five-piece kit and I haven't got three toms for the Ludwigs. So we'll see what happens there. Listening to the new Broadway score, the toms aren't even audible a lot of the time and many of the multi-tom fills were played between the snare and the kick. Otherwise, I should be okay with one or two crashes and a ride (probably the Omni), plus a sizzler if needed.

I'm finally biting the bullet after I don't know how many shows and buying a Miller Machine for my triangle. Bat Boy was a total pain to do traditional triangle. Never again! And Andy, you'll be happy to know the mark tree will be coming out to play.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
First rehearsals are tonight. I'm taking a simple kit - snare, kick, rack, floor, hats, Omni. I may not need much more for the show, in fact - although it appears the MD wants to assign some of the keyboard 2 parts to me to play on electronic pads. All should be much clearer this evening!

EDIT: The band's all here! Should be a great show to play. We sightread all of act one and parts of act two. Band consists of woodwinds, piano, bass, keys 1 and 2, guitar/mandolin, and drums/percussion.
 

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ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
Is a church putting this on? That's interesting. Get them to provide you a keyboard for the K2. They have the resources.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Is a church putting this on? That's interesting. Get them to provide you a keyboard for the K2. They have the resources.
We're only using the church for a rehearsal space. The instruments are all player-provided. The fellow playing bass owns our local music store, so he can pretty much order in anything needed if he hasn't got it in stock. We haven't got both keys players in this rehearsal.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I see. Would you rather play pads or keyboard? I would go kb if possible.
I'm not a keys player, and so I'm adding pads for percussion I can't get or fit in the space. Having said that, we're not stressing about adding layers of percussion or sound effects in - we're trying to keep it as stripped as possible while still filling out the essential voices on the alternate scoring.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I had never heard of a Miller Machine.
Looks very helpful.
Yeah. The guy who invented it, Billy Miller, is a pit drummer based in Seattle (so I had my Machine in lickety-split time). It's great so as not to have to put down sticks, mallets etc. to pick up a triangle beater. As with many musical scores I've played, there's a lot of triangle in this show.

Billy also maintains a website with pictures of drum and percussion setups for all kinds of musicals, from high school productions up to Broadway. It's very helpful to get your kit sorted out for a specific show.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Speaking of setups: Here's my first stab at fitting everything I'll need (and nothing I won't) into a 5x7 space. Please don't mind the clutter in my third car garage-slash-drum studio at the moment...

After sidelining the Standards for my last theater gig, I have never done so again (with the exception of last week's rehearsal). And I figure I'll play vintage drums for a vintage sound, right down to the 5x14 aluminium Standard snare. For cymbals, I did just fine at rehearsal with a single Omni, but I'm adding an 18" A Custom crash on the left side for convenience. It's the crash best matched to the Omni in terms of sound. Right now my A Custom hats are up for practice, but I'm going to play my Sabian AA extra-thin over Zildjian A medium-thin frankenhats for the actual show - both for volume's sake and for a vintage feel.

I'm going to be doubling as much percussion as possible during the show, and so to that end the cowbell, jam block, tambourine, and mark tree are all deployed, plus my new Miller Machine and triangle. The Yamaha DTX Multi-12 with two outboard pads will be triggering everything I don't own, from castanets to congas, plus gunshots and telephone rings. I've got one preliminary bank of instruments already loaded, but I'll refine that in woodshedding today.

Setting up for each new show is both familiar and brand new at once; I've never incorporated electronics or the Miller Machine into a setup, so I'm excited (and a little nervous) to see how it pans out live.
 

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ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
Setup looks great. Pit gigs can be crazy fun. Last one I did was In the Heights. Good call on the DTX 12. Initially I thought your were going to be playing key parts.

You did RHPS last time, right?
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Setup looks great. Pit gigs can be crazy fun. Last one I did was In the Heights. Good call on the DTX 12. Initially I thought your were going to be playing key parts.

You did RHPS last time, right?
My last two since moving to this town were "Rocky Horror Show" and "Bat Boy: The Musical". I've done a few others, including Rogers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, Honk! and "The Borrowers" in its off-off-off-Broadway debut.

Yeah, the Multi-12 will be a big help. Almost every sound I need is already loaded on there and it just took a little fussing and button-pressing to get everything in its right place. I need to load in a sample of an old-timey telephone ring, though - the two rings it comes with sound like the ring on the other end of the line and a modern networked office phone. I might also look for castanet rolls so I can single-strike a pad and get what I need instead of having to do all three or four strokes mid-rhythm.
 
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