Joshua Mark Samuels' percussion setup for the 2019-2020 Broadway production of Beetlejuice at the Winter Garden Theatre.
"Beetlejuice is one of the best percussion scores I've been blessed to develop and play on Broadway. There are five of us (drums, percussion, bass, and two guitars) in the back room at the Winter Garden Theatre, with the rest of the musicians in the actual pit. This setup really lends itself to a very complete sounding rhythm section, as we are not split up throughout the theatre. The crew put clear glass panels up so everyone could see each other, which really helped 'gel' our sound. As you can see from some of the pictures, I had a lot of fun decorating the room.
Kris Kukul, who orchestrated the show, really wanted to embrace the strange, weird, and kooky emotions that emulated Beetlejuice, both the character and the show. This came out in a score full of bizarre and eclectic sounds, which added to the creepy atmosphere, comedy, and fun, in the world of the dead. Kris wrote some really challenging and non-stop percussion parts, which included fun toys like a waterphone, boxing bell, and flexatone, just to name a few. Some changes from xylo to timp were so fast that I couldn't switch mallets. My solution was to put mole skin on one side of a hard xylo mallet so I could quickly turn the mallet to the 'softer side' for timp hits and rolls. I also used many different types of 'swizzle' sticks. In addition to these stick 'tricks', I've added a foot cowbell and foot tambourine to play multiple parts simultaneously.
One thing that I was very pleased with, although not my original idea, was to use two finger cymbals and two Miller Finger Cymbal Machines together. I think this is the best method when you want to get a pure 'ching' that sounds like you are actually hitting two finger cymbals together. I put the two Machines in a 'V' shape with the beater sides spreading out. I then put two finger cymbals on the ends so when you hit the Machines together both beaters lift to strike both finger cymbals. I also use a third Miller Machine for a triangle.
Another cool addition to the set-up is Peter Saleh's Switchboard. This is a great trap table designed by Pete, who also subbed for me at Beetlejuice. This table has many great features and allows me the ability to condense a bunch of sticks/toys/whistles onto one table. It really saves me space and time when running from instrument to instrument!
Check it out, it has so many cool features!"
Joshua Mark Samuels is a proud endorser of Vic Firth Sticks, Sabian Cymbals, MalletKat (Alternate Mode), and TreeHouse Drums.