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Building a rig for Little Shop: what would you do?


BluMunk

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So, this coming fall I'm music directing a production of Little Shop of Horrors. The theatre's season also includes Aida, Into the Woods, and Cats. Ours is the last show of the season, and I want to make it the only show people remember from next year.

 

With that in mind, I want the band and singers to sound as great as possible. We're all very talented, so that part is taken care of. We'll be physically on the stage (off to stage right, in the "alleyway" of Skid Row) in a small maybe 300 person theater.

 

The pieces are:

 

Drums

Bass

Keys 1

Keys 2

Guitar (Keys 3?)

 

My question to you all is sort of two fold.

 

Part one: if you had, oh, let's say $2000, what sort of sound system would you put together? It's a small space, but in order to allow the band (particularly the drums) to rock out a little bit, I'd like to have some volume. I'll probably be renting body mics for the singers. We have no PA at the moment. And, we'll probably run the board from the "pit".

 

Equipment we have:

 

  • Behringer Eurodesk SL2442FX-PRO (the FX don't work very reliably).
  • Also a smaller 8 channel mixer.
  • Crown Amp and two Peavey wedge monitors.

 

We'll need to both monitor in the 'pit,' have a monitor for the stage, and to have speakers out to the front of house. Maybe some reverb; two or three independant reverbs I think.

 

I'm not sure whether we should have the guitar and bass have amps, or just send direct into a mix, which might make the most sense.

 

Part Two:

 

Like I said, we'll have two dedicated keyboard players, and probably the guitar player will play some keys on a few songs. My question here is, again, let's say you had maybe $1500 to spend on synths and/or effects for synths for this pit, what might you suggest. What we have is:

 

  • Alesis QS7.1
  • Alesis QS8
  • Nord Lead 2X
  • Yamaha S90 ES (probably getting this by the end of January)

 

What I need is:

  • Piano sounds (got this covered, I think)
  • Warm strings that don't get to bright and tinny in higher registers
  • Clean organs (not gritty), that again, are very mellow and aren't piercing up high
  • A good cello or a smooth synth lead
  • Warm bells
  • A few pads

 

Maybe I've already got most of what I need, in which case some patch suggestions would be nice. I have almost no hands on with the Nord Lead, and only a few hours with the S90.

 

I know this is a long post, and there are probably a million different answers to these very broad questions.

 

Basically, I hear a lot of great stuff on the cast recording CD, and have a lot of ideas in my head, but don't necessarially know the best way to accomplish what I want; a well-mixed, coherent and rich-sounding orchestration. We've got the talent and the ear, but what equipment will help us get there I have no idea.

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I'll leave the amplification section to someone more expert than me, and I'll give a few tips on the keyboard section.

 

I would keep the Nord and, of course, the S90ES. One of the Alesis could be probably be useful for auxiliary sounds, reiforcing organs and pads, etc.

Then I would add one or two Kurzweil PC2 with orchestral expansion, maybe in rack version given your limited budget (you could drive them via MIDI from the Alesis keyboards).

The PC2 has very nice, warm strings, and also pianos which sound a bit deeper and warmer, in case the S90 would sound too harsh on some tunes. The orchestral ROM expansion adds some nice solo sounds, and excellent brass too.

I think the Nord will give you all the synth leads you will need for LSOH, with the help of a little EQ and reverb.

Organs: Both the PC2 and the S90 have decent organs (the PC2's are best in my opinion), but neither is state of the art. Unfortunately, a dedicated organ clone would break your budget... But be sure to audition the organs in the PC2, they could be perfect for the job.

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Originally posted by BluMunk:

So, this coming fall I'm music directing a production of Little Shop of Horrors. The theatre's season also includes Aida, Into the Woods, and Cats. Ours is the last show of the season, and I want to make it the only show people remember from next year.

 

So hold over the elephants.

 

For a 300 seat theatre you should not need a lot of power. Indeed, you hardly need to mic the drums at all (maybe the kick) given that they are on stage. As you are all in a constrained space, micing the drums will probably be challenging.

 

Your biggest problem will probably be sound isolation between the stage and FOH. (I am assuming the singers are using lapel mics) This will limit the volume you can pump out and that in turn limits how much power you need. The crown amp is probably big enough to run everything - use one side for your wedges and the other for mains. All you need to rent is a couple of mains.

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