Dave Roth's percussion setup for the Broadway production of Back To The Future at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City.
Dave's write-up below photos.
"Great Scott!!! Back to the Future Broadway has been one of the most enjoyable musical and personal experiences that I’ve had on The Great White Way. Playing portions of Alan Silvestri’s film score and the tunes from he and Glenn Ballard make every night fresh and exciting. The percussion book, orchestrated by Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook, provide a nightly challenge between the pop and concert style genres. After my previous experience playing King Kong I assumed I would never be challenged with a timpani book in theater again like that but this one is right up there. There are enough active pedal changes to keep me very occupied on three timpani. In addition, there are more challenges with some exposed and intricate mallet passages and some great moments on snare drum.
You might also notice in the pictures that I extended the pedal on the tubular bells with a piece of wood so I could place them further from me but still access the pedal.
The overall choreography of this book is pretty mild so I didn’t have to make too many sacrifices in the setup as I have in other shows. Most of the quicker moves are from the timpani to the accessory (toys) percussion 'station' so I made sure to set that up side by side. Also the tubular bells are more suited closer to the timpani so that created one small issue as I needed to play a beautiful snare passage in one of the ballads that goes from snare to the tubular bells in just 2 and 1/2 beats. So I decided to set the snare drum at more drum set height and under the accessory trap table in front of the tubular bells. And with the Roc-N-Soc timpani throne I just lower my seat in position for that moment in the show. A great space saver. You might also notice in the pictures that I extended the pedal on the tubular bells with a piece of wood so I could place them further from me but still access the pedal. I didn’t have too many space issues but the footprint is definitely larger than what was originated in London as they had a Roland SPD Drum Pad for the toms part and here in New York we are using acoustic toms.
I have always been a film score buff and actually my first album purchase when I was 10 years old was John Williams' film score for Star Wars. So working directly with [Alan] Silvestri was literally a dream come true for this small town Kansas kid.
The real impetus of this book is the timpani. It is definitely the driving force for the percussion in Back to the Future and it requires a big articulate sound and once again Yamaha with the Evans Orchestral White Opaque Heads just deliver. I have used this combination for 25 years on and off Broadway and I said from the get go that this was a must.
I have always been a film score buff and actually my first album purchase when I was 10 years old was John Williams' film score for Star Wars. So working directly with Silvestri was literally a dream come true for this small town Kansas kid. He and the entire music team were incredibly detailed, musically insightful and kind in navigating and expressing their musical requests. It made the whole process incredible.
'Roth' towel from photo above:
In 1984 I auditioned for the McDonald’s All-American High School Band and was honored to have won a spot on the drumline. Our first trip was to New York City for the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving parade. It was the first time that I had ever flown on a plane and did so solo as a 17 year old from Kansas that had never been to the big city. It was so exciting and terrifying! At that time I hadn’t even considered a career in music as that was not common from where I was raised. That experience changed my life and opened my eyes to the possibility. The following month we flew out to L.A. to be a part of the Rose Bowl Parade and various other corporate gigs. Sadly, my trip wasn’t with only high notes. My grandfather passed away while I was in L.A. and I was unable to be at the funeral. When I returned home my dad had inherited my grandfather’s possessions. I saw this little hand towel with the 'Roth' family name on it and I had always liked that when I was little so my mom & dad gave it to me.
This became very significant to me in my music life and I have brought that towel on every gig I have had for over 39 years! Many times it stays in my bag for safe keeping but it is always with me. This is the first time I have ever shared this story with anyone. I really wanted to display it prominently on my gig with Back to the Future because the hotel that the McDonald’s Band put us up in, (Park Central Hotel) is only five blocks north of the Winter Garden Theater. Life sure has a funny way of unfolding."