• Drum Set and Percussion Setups from Musical Theatre and More

Don Sanderson - Spamalot

Don's setup from the Orlando Shakespeare Theater's production of Spamalot in Orlando, Florida.

"I have had the privilege of playing over 100 shows in my almost 40 year career and I have to say Spamalot has been my most enjoyable experience in all of the shows I've played. Our cast is brilliant, the band sounds great, the music is fun and not really hard and a non stop laughing and cheering crowd motivates you to play your best.

The show is only about 2 hours long, moves quickly, and of course is ridiculously funny. Our pit sits and laughs every day even though we play it 8 times a week and have heard it all before.

The tunes are definitely a mixed bag of styles. After listening to the recording and noting there was a definitely Vegasy show band feel to this I opted to use my Tama Starclassic Maple drums. 20” bass drum, 10", 12", 14", 16” toms, 13” Yamaha Musashi snare drum. For cymbals I am using all Zildjian Dark K’s. 8” Splash, 9” Hybrid Splash, 16” Dark Crash, 18” Crash Ride, 20" Dark Ride and 14" Hihats. Iron Cobra bass drum pedals and hihat pedal.

Styles range from 2 Beat to Ragtime, Disco to Big Band, Pop Power Ballads and Marching Band Cadences

This book calls for a drummer and percussion but that wasn’t in the budget so I had to combine books. The show starts with timpani which I play on my MalletKAT. For percussion gear I am using the Miller Machine with my Alan Abel triangle, an LP Ridge Rider cowbell, Rhythmtech Double Row Wind Chimes, Rhythmtech tambourine, and LP Granite Blocks.
I am triggering a variety of sounds like the claps in the Laker Girls tune, fish slaps in 'The Fisch Schlapping Dance', a gong, bell tree and crotale in 'In Search of the Grail', a fart effect in 'Run Away' , finger snaps in 'His Name Is Lancelot' and a shovel hit in 'I’m Not Dead Yet' and the Finale. I use my Roland SPDS Pad system.

Management initially requested that I play this on my Roland kit, but I had to convince them that the jazzy nature of this book would not lend itself well to electronic drums. You need live cymbals, stirring brushes on a snare drum etc.

If you have the opportunity to play the show, jump at it. There are only a couple or three spots where you have to wait at least 5 minutes for dialogue between songs.

My favorite tunes are 'The Knights of the Round Table', which goes from 2 beat to a tap break to big band to latin, to a stripper feel. I also love 'You Wont Succeed on Broadway', with lots of Jewish references musically including a Russian Bottle Dance that reminds me of my year in DCI with the Concord Blue Devils where I watched one of our rivals, the Santa Clara Vanguard perform this move. The Finale is very fun too. Very jazzy. I’m a jazz drummer first and this is right up my alley.

There’s nothing quite like a show where folks ride imaginary horses to coconut shell clopping. The lesson we learn is to 'Always Look on the Bright Side' and I won’t soon forget this enjoyable musical romp."