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."