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mmcquain 10-27-2010 11:42 PM

Playing in a Broadway type show (again)
OK so I'm playing in my third theatre production this year, The Little Shop of Horrors. Some of you may remember my earlier thread ( )about my first two shows (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and then The Wizard of Oz). If you've never played a Broadway type of show before you've really missed out on what can be both very funny and very crazy. No matter what, these type of gigs are a real "learning experience" and can really test your chops as a guitarist.

Neither of the first two shows had a set guitar part - Joseph had THREE parts and I had to mix and match between them since I was the only guitar and the Wizard had NO guitar part written out so I basically made up my own parts.

Little Shop of Horrors is my first show with a chart for a single guitarist - mainly electric (but with a couple of spots calling for acoustic guitar). I haven't made up my mind yet if I'll actually switch guitars or if I'll just play clean for those couple of spots.

If you've seen the movie version from the '80's (Steve Martin, Rick Morranis, Bill Murray, etc.) then you've heard the type of music in the show (lots of 1950-60's "do wop" and early rock-n-roll type stuff.

I will be playing my Strat thru my Tweaker amp (mic'd into the FOH and monitors). Pedals include overdrive, distortion, flanger, delay, and volume pedal. I plan to have my CS-356 in the stand incase I break a string, etc. If I do switch to acoustic it will be my Breedlove going diect into the system.

My earlier thread about the first two shows got several comments from people who either had played these types of shows (thanks for the advice!) or from those who wanted to learn more and get some tips incase they ever played this type of gig in the future. So I've decided to start this thread to once again share my experience and as a means for us to share advice with each other. So feel free to post any comment and/or questions.

Practice runs three nights next week and then the shows runs Sat. and Sun. the 2nd and 3rd weekends in Nov. I'll take some pics of my setup in "the pit" and report back in as it goes. I look forward to hearing from others with similar experiences, etc. Thanks!

p.s. If any of you are in the Tarpon Springs, FL area then come by and see the show. Check out for details.

mmcquain 11-06-2010 12:57 PM

Well we made it thru 3 nights of practice and tonight is Opening Night. The songs in act 1 are pretty easy but personally I think we could use a little more time on Mean Green Mother and a couple of others... oh well, I'll practice this afternoon and we'll see how it goes tonight.

They have us set up in front of the stage on the floor, which isn't really a "pit" but is partially hidden by a desk-height wall across the front. Everyone (bass, guitar, keys) is going direct input (D/I). The drums are live and not mic'd since the room isn't that big (seats less than 500 total). I wanted to use my amp (Egnator Tweaker) down low facing me but the sound guy has his way of doing things and really isn't very flexible. :( I was going to run thru my amp modeller (V-Amp, like a POD) but ended up with a decent sound just out of the pedal board!

The only real problem is that we completely depend on the sound guy to give us a good monitor mix, which is a hit and miss thing it seems... after finally getting him to build a decent mix for us to all hear ourselves, he ends up tweaking his levels once the play/songs get going and next thing you know we have trouble hearing again. The real issue is that this guy is a "set it and leave it" type who mixes for the actors mics (with very music underscore) and never brings back up our levels for the songs. He really needs to be riding the faders and mixing back and forth between songs and just dialog but he says he has "too much going on"! LOL - the board is only like 24 channels... he'd pass out in a bigger show on a 64 or 96 channel board :) The other down side to his mixing style is that he isn't bringing the keys up to where they need to be for the stage monitors and thus the singers cant hear their pitches/cues very well. This can throw them off, which in turn means the band has to follow along wherever they (singers) may go. Oh, it's a learning experience!!! LOL

The worst part is that you've got 2-3 guys (me and a couple of others) that could do a better mix (IMO) but this guy comes with the theatre (owned by the city as part of their performing arts program). Like many government workers, the sound guy doesn't seem to put in a lot of effort (albeit if you asked him he would tell you how "busy" he is)... and sorry to any of you that are government workers (no disrespect intended).

Anyway, the show must go on! I'll post another update after this weekend's performances.

mmcquain 11-09-2010 01:52 PM

Well we made it thru opening weekend. The first night was a sell out but the Sunday afternoon show was only about 75% full... still a nice turn out overall.

There were the usually goofs on my part (missed a cue here, flubbed a chord there) but overall things went smoothly. At least as well as can be given the ongoing issues with our soundman not allowing amps (we're all D/I to the board) - we are still having trouble hearing ourselves in the monitor!

Anyway, here's a few more pics from the show...

You can see all my various play gigs at:

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