October 21, 2002
'BLAST!' is explosive entertainment
by Deborah Stone
Arts and Entertainment
"BLAST!" is currently heating up the stage at The 5th Avenue Theatre with its combination of athleticism, musical talent, movement and showmanship. This Tony Award-Winner show is a unique experience that is both compelling and entertaining.
Born on athletic fields across the country, "BLAST!" is a novel art form that evolved from the art of outdoor pageantry.
Fifty-four brass, percussion and visual performers comprise the cast of the production and perform a series of numbers from classical, blues, jazz, rock 'n roll and techno-pop genres.
The result is a delightful explosion of music and theatre that sends audiences to their feet and fills the theatre with thunderous applause.
The creative force behind "BLAST!" is James Mason, a lifelong veteran of drum and bugle corps and director of the drum corps Star of Indiana, which he founded in 1984 in Bloomington, Ind.
Over the years the Star of Indiana went on to receive numerous prestigious awards, including Drum Corps World Champion. Mason conceived of "BLAST!" as a theatrical show that would bring the power, passion and precision of the drum corps pageantry to the stage in a musical performance.
The production succeeds on all levels with its dazzling choreography, pumped-up musician-dancer-athlete performers, amazing visual spectacles and rousing, feel-good music. Drummers duel madly, trumpeters do cartwheels, percussionists juggle drumsticks that glow in the dark and dancers orchestrate split-second precision movements while spinning rifles, flags and twirling batons. The musical instruments gleam and shine from every spotlight, competing with the dazzling smiles of the performers. In addition to the array of sixty-one brass instruments, there are 234 percussion instruments, some with esoteric names like guiro, shekere and surdos, and for a touch of exotica, there are didgeridoos from Australia. After a first act that includes a wonderful opening rendition of Maurice Ravel's "Bolero," and moves through a blues number to "Simple Gifts" from Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring," the show continues on to include a selection from "West Side Story" and Chuck Mangione's beloved "Land of Make Believe." It concludes with the Latin inspired "Malaguena," a pulsating, sensory treat that ends with the cast taking to the aisles and moving into the lobby to bid the ecstatic audience a smiling, handshaking farewell. "BLAST!" runs through Oct. 27. For ticket information, call (206) 292-2787.