The drum and bugle corps kids of Blast! (and kids is right - most are in their 20's) are going to celebrate their Broadway opening April 17 at the Broadway Theatre, despite recent pressure from the Muscians union, Local 802. The union, which sought to bring the Blast! cast into Local 802 last week, has been challenged by the producers who say the players are being fairly compensated. No agreement has yet been reached.
The union strife doesn't seem to matter much to the show, which has enjoyed success in several major venues including Chicago and Washington, D.C. and on a PBS special earlier in 2000. A national tour is planned for the current company beginning in Sept. 2001. Blast! is scheduled to run at Broadway's Broadway through June 3.
Born in the heartland — Bloomington, Indiana, to be exact — Blast! evolved from the drum corps Star of Indiana. The group's artistic director James Mason, after carrying the company to a world championship at the Drum Crops International World Championships in 1991, began to shape Star of Indiana from a 128 member group to a theatrical show. In 1999, Blast! debuted at the Apollo Hammersmith in London in a 68-person version.
The U.S. touring company has been pared down to 60 performers ranging in ages from 18 to 31, a majority of them having played their instrument since age 11. A vast array of musical implements are used in the show, from the familiar — trumpet, trombone, snare drums — to the more exotic, like mellophones, euphoniums, a large surdo, mark trees and the vibraphone.
The music is complemented by traditional marching band flag and sabre corps, who fling their brightly-colored banners and wooden rifles to the flies in choreographed routines. The musicians, too, get involved in the marching. Blast! consists of some 15 numbers, including one musical theatre number, "Gee, Officer Krupke," from West Side Story. Also on the program:
Lee's "Color Wheel"
Talbot's "Split Complimentaries"
Ferguson and Lane's "Everybody Loves the Blues"
Copland's "Simple Gifts/Appalachian Spring"
Hannum-Lee-Rennick's "Bettery Battle"
Ponce's "Color Wheel Too"
Epperson and Venderkolff's "Tangerinamadidge"
Mangoine's "Land of Make Believe"
Miki's "Marimba Spiritual"
Spiro's "Earth Beat"
A dozen of those numbers have been preserved on an RCA Victor recording, available in the U.S. since Aug. 22. The recording was made both in December, 1999 at the London Apollo Hammersmith and in July, 2000 at the Indiana University Auditorium. Blast! was also broadcast on PBS in August, 2000.
For tickets and information on Blast! call (212) 239-6200 (after March 11). Visa Card holders can buy tickets starting a week earlier. Blast! was represented on the road by Dodger Theatricals. According to the Boneau/Bryan-Brown press office, the Broadway engagement is produced by Cook Group Incorporated and Star of Indiana, with Dodger Theatricals. Blast! is on the web at http://www.blasttheshow.com.