Greg Germann’s combined book setup for the National tour of the Broadway show Finding Neverland at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington.
Read Greg's write-up about the show, below the photos.
“Before I started rehearsals I was told the show would be rewritten so I was trying to be ready for anything they might throw at me. I received an instrument list, and listened to the cast album and the Broadway pit recordings as much as I could to get a feel of what the vibe of the music was. I ended up getting a piano vocal score to use for marking stuff up for rehearsals and using the Broadway drum book as a reference. I didn't get the actual drum parts for the tour until the first orchestra read.
The Broadway setup was just a drum set and a Roland SPD-SX Pad for samples. There was a massive percussion setup on Broadway and because of this the music team decided to combine both books for the tour. Because they were re-orchestrating the show I was told not to work out specific parts because it would probably change once the music was finalized. However, during dance rehearsals for songs like ‘Hook’ that require samples (the pad was being reprogrammed as well) I had to ‘fake it’ and figure out ways to play the drums that sounded similar to the samples being used on the pad so that the director and music department wouldn't feel as though they were missing something.
Upon arrival at the first orchestra read I received the remaining equipment that was on the list (electronic pad and glockenspiel) in addition to the actual parts. We had a blueprint for how the set up would be done but it wasn't finalized until we got the actual music and played through the show a few times. The music was still evolving during the tech process.
The orchestra read was really fun because Elliott Kennedy, the composer, and Simon Hale, the orchestrator, were open to letting me try out a few new things. For example, in the first chorus of the song ‘Neverland’ (originally written for drums) I thought we should start with a shaker like the Broadway percussion book which could help the music build more throughout the tune.
Another cool example was when we were in tech and played the song ‘Stronger’. Originally the drum groove was alI played on the pad playing along with tracks triggered by the conductor from the Ableton. So, to make it sound more live, Elliott asked me to play it all live on drums. His exact words were ‘Be a drummer mate!’ It was a very cool moment.
Because of the Ableton, 90 percent of the show is on click and many of the transitions are very quick. It’s important to get those tempos in your body as quickly as you can. Often times there is a vocal recitative and then the click comes in right on tempo.
I'd like to thank everyone who helped me out by giving me the resources to learn this show. Thanks to Joe Choroszewski and Joe Mowatt and Dave Roth for providing me with pit recordings, the books and the opportunities to watch them play each of these books. I’d also like to thank Fred Lassen, Ryan Cantwell, Simon Hale, Elliott Kennedy and John Miller for the opportunity and their patience with me while we were figuring out what the drum and percussion book would eventually morph into!”