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Sweeney Todd - Sam Wisman

Sam Wisman’s combined book setup for Sweeney Todd at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Read Sam's write-up about the show, below the photos.

Sam Wisman’s combined book setup for Sweeney Todd at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.Sam Wisman’s combined book setup for Sweeney Todd at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.Sam Wisman’s combined book setup for Sweeney Todd at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.Sam Wisman’s combined book setup for Sweeney Todd at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.Sam Wisman’s combined book setup for Sweeney Todd at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.Sam Wisman’s combined book setup for Sweeney Todd at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

"Playing Sweeney Todd presents some interesting challenges. Primarily the fact there are at least three versions of the percussion book in existence and none of them is ideal. The reduced 1-player book is full of errors and the 2-player books underestimate what one player can pull off. For this production there is an 11 piece orchestra playing the 'full' orchestration using two keyboards to support 9 live players. With that in mind, I created a hybrid book playing primarily both parts simultaneously from the most current 2-player book while stealing some parts and philosophy from the reduced 1-player book.

I am set up on stage and had to deal with the usual space limitations plus navigating some support poles. I mount as much as possible from STRONG cymbal stands and stack cymbals to save space and allow easy one handed rolls. Also, I use the chimes to mount several of my 'toys'. The vibraphone frame and bars (as long as you don’t need the notes!) are a good place to rig things as well. This all allows my footprint to become smaller.

Having a smaller drum set bass drum AND a grand cassa is pretty essential for the sound of this show. Often I hit my grand cassa using a bass drum pedal with an oversized, heavy beater.

Lastly, having some timpani mutes (in this case folded suede leather) has been very helpful achieving staccato timpani notes without much hand dampening which allows me to quickly start playing the next instrument.

And, as always, the Miller Machine is an absolute necessity and has a central spot in the set up."

Sweeney Todd - Regional - Sam Wisman
March 2018

Sam Wisman’s combined book setup for Sweeney Todd at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Greg Landes’ setup for the Off Broadway production of The Landing at the Vineyard Theatre in New York City.
Mike Drake's set up for Side Show at the Casa Mañana Theater, in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • 3 min read
Greg Landes’ setup for the Pit Stop Players’ concert at Symphony Space in New York City.
"After a week or two of rehearsals there is usually a performance or two of the show for an invited audience. Sometimes these performances can be intense if there are important people in the room, or if certain sections of the show feel under prepared. This is why it’s so important to know the score and script very well."
  • 6 min read
"The unique part of Groundhog Day was that the drummer had to play on stage, in a groundhog costume, wearing a giant groundhog head. Since I could barely see out of the head, it was impossible to read a chart (and there wasn’t a music stand), so it had to be memorized."
  • 4 min read
"If you are passionate, driven, feel you have a calling, a burning desire to play, practice, perform, and record music that you can share with the world, then choosing to be a professional musician here will make you a fulfilled and happy person. You’ll meet the most amazing people on stage, in the rehearsal room and in the audience."
  • 6 min read
Steve Gadd's drum solo from the track "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours". From the album Live Stuff (out of print) from the legendary 1970's New York based band Stuff.
Robbie Ameen's drum solo from the track "Spring Fling".

Gene Krupa's drum solo from "Gene's Blues" from the album Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich released November 1955.

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