Is it a blast? Blast!, a new musical extravaganza which uses drum and bugle corps the way Riverdance uses Irish step dancers, begins Broadway previews at the Broadway Theatre April 5. The show, whose pre-Broadway tour ended at Washington DC's Kennedy Center Jan. 14, will open in New York April 17 for a limited 10-week run through June 10.
From its U.S. premiere at Boston's Wang Center in 2000, Blast! has stopped in Milwaukee and recently played at Detroit's Masonic Temple Theatre, followed by Chicago's Ford Center Oriental Theatre (Oct. 24-Nov. 5). The Kennedy Center run, which began Dec. 19, 2000 concluded what Dodger Theatricals spokespersons called the show’s “teaser tour” (a teaser taste of the show was offered at the Kennedy Center Honors, broadcast Dec. 27 on CBS). A full-scale tour is planned to start in September 2001.
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.