An adaptation of Alice Walker's The Color Purple Broadway musical recently took to the road and is currently playing an extended engagement in Chicago. Sound designer Jon Weston, a 25-year veteran of theater sound, is using Drawmer signal-processing gear for this tour.
The show's music spans gospel, blues, jazz and rock and is performed by a band big enough to crowd any orchestra pit. Weston specified Drawmer DS404 quad gates and DS501 power gates for all of the drum kit mics and the electric bass.
According to Weston, "Drawmer gates are so musical! No matter how fast I need to make the release, there's never a moment when I feel like I've snipped something off; it just sounds like a fader closing very quickly. There's never a perceptible click either."
Weston specified a Drawmer DL251 spectral compressor for the snare and the bass drum. With regard to the bass drum, Weston says, "We mix two bass drum mics together,: one just outside the hole, one inside the drum. Then we send those through the DL251 spectral compressor. It takes a little bit of fiddling, but once we have it it's very nice. When the drummer kicks lightly, we get this nice, warm 'puh' sound. When he kicks a little harder, the spectral compressor kicks in and the sound gets more directed. It's perfect because there are times when the music calls for drive under dialog. We don't always want a big kick characteristic because it may not go with what's happening dramatically."
Seven Drawmer DA6 distribution amplifiers are also in use, handling all of the "show program" distribution for intercom and paging systems. Weston chose these units "because show program is one thing we cannot afford to have go down during a show. I'm sure we've all had a bad experience with show program going down to the stage manger or the spot booth. With Drawmer and our proprietary distribution scheme, it has yet to happen."