Laura Hamel's setup for Babes In Arms at the Forestburgh Playhouse in Forestburgh, New York.
Laura's write-up below photos.
Image Below: "...with a little help from our costume department, we took a small length of elastic waistband and glued it to the outside edge of the thimbles."
"Rodgers and Harts’ Babes In Arms first opened on Broadway in 1937 at the Shubert Theatre. Since then, it has seen many edits and different productions, and even a famous film with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. It’s the classic “Hey kids, let’s put on a show in a barn!” story. The show eventually fell out of the limelight over the years, but we are proud to present the world premiere of the revival of Babes in Arms.
This past summer, a music workshop was performed in Pennsylvania before I met up with the show at Forestburgh Playhouse in upstate New York. By this time, the show was reorchestrated by the amazing Andy Einhorn and Mike Brun. Upon meeting up with the team, I received a book that mostly consisted of drums charts but with a few piano conductor scores in the mix.
While reading off the piano scores for the first few days of rehearsal, Andy and I would talk about the feel each song needed. He’d specify what sort of colors each section of the song required and what measures needed a certain hit to match what was going on onstage. I especially got to have fun with the big dance numbers. I’d watch the cast perform the dance along with the piano, then played along trying out different interpretations within the music.
Our wonderful choreographer, Ellenore Scott, put together great dance sequences that gave me a lot to catch. From kicks and jumps to comedic pretend punches, there was plenty of hits and color changes for the drums to play. And after every attempt at the number, Andy and I would talk about everything he liked or didn’t like. We’d go back and forth trying out new ideas until we figured out what best fit for the song, which I then would scribble onto my iPad.
My iPad ended up being a necessity for the rehearsal period of the show. Before rehearsals started, I downloaded all the music I needed from a google drive and read them off of forScore. After that, I was given new music just about every day for two weeks. So, every morning, I’d get several charts through Airdrop. Some songs were brand new, others were cleaned up versions of the charts I had scribbled all over the day before, now nicely done up in Finale (which I would then scribble onto more). Most of the band worked in this fashion and we would bounce the needed charts around all through rehearsal.
Although the drum set part of this book was fun, my favorite part of the show may just be the washboard playing. Originally, I was going to be playing the washboard while playing a simple two beat pattern with the kick and high hat. But within the first few days of rehearsal, the director, Douglas Carter Beane, called me over and asked if I wanted to dance with the washboard. Of course, I said yes and Ellenore quickly taught me the steps to the song ‘Way Out West’. I twirled, do-si-do’d and did some vine stepping all while keeping the beat on the washboard.
Other than memorizing the dance moves, the biggest problem I ran into with ‘Way Out West’ was keeping the thimbles on my fingers while moving around so much. But after a bit of research, I found a solution. So, with a little help from our costume department, we took a small length of elastic waistband and glued it to the outside edge of the thimbles. The waistband is pulled tight around the thimble, giving some grip to hold onto my fingers while I played. It was a real lifesaver especially since I ended up playing brushes on the snare and used a mallet on some woodblocks all while still wearing the thimbles throughout that same song.
It was a pleasure to get the chance to help orchestrate this book and work with the creative team for the show. This book presents plenty of fun challenges that kept each show feeling lively and exhilarating. It’s going to be exciting to see where this show will end up next."
Drums: Rodgers with Evans Heads
- 12” Rack Tom
- 14” Floor Tom
- 18” Kick Drum
- 14" Yamaha Stage Custom with Remo Heads
- PDP Kick Drum Pedal
- DW Throne
- Gibraltar Lightning Rod Telescoping Double Braced Hi-Hat Stand
- Zildjian 17" A Medium Thin Crash
- Soultone 8" Gospel Splash (stacked upside down on top of Zildjian 17" Crash)
- Zildjian 18" ZBT Crash Ride
- Sabian 14" B8 Hi-Hats
- LP Salsa Cowbell
- Grover Pro WB-8 Medium Wood Block
- Timber Drum Co. TW-T4-M Medium Wood Block
- Alan Abel 6” Triangle
- Miller Machine for Triangle
- LP Double-Row Bar Chimes
- LP Bell Tree
- American Songwhistle Slide Whistle
- Vic Firth 7A Drum Sticks
- Vic Firth Jazz Brushes
- Musser M-235 Good Vibes Mallets
- Mike Balter 12BB Green Yarn (with yarn removed) Mallets
- Mike Balter SB 4-in-1 Triangle Beater
- Apple iPad
- forScore Sheet Music Reader Software
- Powerplay 16 Monitor
- Shure SE 215 In-Ear Monitors
- Audix F6 Dynamic Bass and Kick Drum (kick drum)
- Audix F2 Dynamic Instrument Microphone (small tom)
- Audix F9 Pencil Condenser Microphone (2)