BLAST! Rocks the DuPont Theatre

by Holly Quinn

Members of the cast of BLAST, playing at the DuPont Theatre in Wilmington, DE through February 5. (Photos courtesy of DuPont Theatre)

If you’ve ever gone to the ballet and found yourself spending just as much time gazing into the orchestra pit as at the dancers onstage, BLAST! is your kind of show. If it bothers you that most televised college football games spend halftime talking about football rather than broadcasting the marching band performances, BLAST! is definitely your kind of show. If you don’t relate to either of those things but love a big, epic show full of great live music and awesome visuals, the Tony Award winning show, at the DuPont Theatre in Wilmington from January 31 to February 5, is a must-see all the same.

I’ve never watched the popular PBS broadcast of BLAST!, so I went in completely fresh, with nothing but the poster and some positive buzz to go on. It looked like STOMP with a drum & bugle corps — and that’s not far off. It’s not a traditional musical, but a special theatrical event, two hours of spectacularly choreographed live performances.

The show starts quietly, with one drum and one horn, playing “Colero.” The music builds and builds, as more and more musicians join in. The horn players dance. It’s so mesmerizing, I sometimes forgot that the music was actually coming from the dancers. It’s definitely not your typical drum and bugle corps choreography, but the roots are there, always. In “Color Wheel,” dancers moved with colorful flags — called silks, if my high school memories are correct — in an artful display that culminated into a breathtaking display, as a raised percussion section was revealed, with just about every kind of drum, marimba, bell and crash. This is the point in the show where your jaw drops, and it doesn’t close until intermission, after which it resumes its awed position.

There’s no way to thoroughly describe the entire show — it really must be seen to be believed. There are blaring jazz trumpets, dancing mellophones, flugelhorn solos, more silks and baton twirlers, didgeridoos, special light effects, and lots and lots of percussion. Percussion like you’ve never seen. Drumstick acrobatics, a snare drum battle, racks of drums being lowered to the stage to turn snares into full drum sets… it’s intense, to say the least.

If you can swing tickets in the orchestra, it’s the place to be. The cast lines the aisles — and even grabs an open seat here and there, surrounding the audience with sound. This was especially awesome during the didgeridoo piece, “Tangerinamadidge.”

BLAST!, a touring company, will be moving on to the next city soon. Catch it while you can!

Artistic Director: James Mason
Musical Director: Jefferson S. Lee
Staging Director: Jonathan Vanderkolff
Acting Director: George Pinney
Choreography by Jim Moore, George Pinney, and Jonathan Vanderkolff
January 31 – February 5, 2012
DuPont Theatre
The DuPont Building
Wilmington, DE 19801

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