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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.

Sal Mazzotta's setup for the World Premiere of Here You Come Again, a new Dolly Parton Musical, at the Delaware Theatre Company, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Andrew Warren's setup for Head Over Heels at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, New York.
Paul Pizzuti's drum set setup for the 2014 recording session of NBC’s Peter Pan Live at Avatar Studios in New York City.
  • 1 min read
"It hasn’t always been easy (and it’s certainly very odd right now!) but personally I’ve always enjoyed the challenge. I’ve heard a few things along the way that have informed how I’ve thought about New York City and the idea of 'making it'”.
  • 5 min read
"The musical experience of recording a Broadway cast album ranges from easy to difficult depending on the circumstances. I find that the two factors that contribute most to the quality of the experience are: 1) how good the band is; and 2) how soon after you started the show you record the album"
  • 5 min read
"When I was preparing to conductNice Work if You Can Get It, I began by watching a video of the conductor and marking my score with any cues or beat patterns that were not obvious to me. I wanted to be completely comfortable with the Musical Directors choreography before watching the video of the stage and trying to put the music to the action of the actors and dancers."
Bill Stewart's drum solo from the title track of his album Snide Remarks.
Robbie Ameen's drum solo from the track "Spring Fling".
Steve Jordan's drum solo from the title track of the album Casa Loco.

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