The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

What's Happening

January 22, 2012

'What a spectacle' | Blast! an audio, visual treat at arts center

The audience will be blown away by the entertainment during an upcoming arts center show.

Blast! a synchronized blend of marching band, drum corps and indoor color guard, will raise the roof at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

The award-winning ensemble sold out when it performed at the arts center in 2008, and executive director Michael Bodolosky expects ticket sales to be brisk.

“I have a relationship with the company that brought them here previously, and they had a great experience when they were here before,” Bodolosky said. “We worked it out so I could fit them in.

“A lot of tickets are out. I advise getting them early because it will sell out.”

Blast! is the winner of the 2001 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event and the 2001 Emmy Award for Best Choreography.

The group has astounded audiences in London, Japan, on Broadway and across North America.

“They’re like a symphony orchestra that’s moving,” Bodolosky said. “That’s how orchestrated it is.

“Their individual talents, virtuosity and accuracy are impeccable.”

The music Blast! performs includes classical, blues, jazz, rock ’n’ roll and techno-pop.

Bodolosky said those who saw the show in Johnstown before could only say “what a spectacle.”

Reviewers have said Blast!, with its youthful energy and cocky panache, far outdoes Stomp and Riverdance, and they have called it music in motion.

The physical and musical demands of the production require that performers be highly trained athletes who are also world-class musicians.

Blast! performances represent a novel art form that has evolved from the showmanship of outdoor pageantry.

Blast! cast members have three performing sections – brass, percussion and visual.

The brass section includes more than 60 types of brass instruments, and the percussion section includes drums, mallet instruments and electronic keyboards.

In addition to the sabers and colorful flags of a traditional color-guard unit, the visual element of the show features unusual implements spun and tossed in a perfectly synchronized drill.

“There will be two sets, each one hour long, culminating in a rousing rendition of ‘Malaguena,’ ” Bodolosky said.

“From top to bottom, they’re first class.”

The touring unit of Blast! consists of 35 members, drawn from the world of outdoor pageantry all across North America.

Blast! cast members hold more than 40 world titles.

The group evolved from the drum corps unit, Star of Indiana, which was founded in 1984 in Bloomington, Ind., to benefit young people in music education.

In its first year, Star of Indiana became the first such group ever to place among the top 10 corps at the prestigious Drum Corps International World Championships.

The group eventually became the world champion in 1991.

Competing against other organizations from the United States, Japan, Canada and Europe, their performances revolutionized the world of drum corps, bringing a more sophisticated sense of musicianship and showmanship and dynamic choreography.

In 1993, artistic director James Mason, a lifelong veteran of drum and bugle corps, began shaping the evolution of Star of Indiana from a competitive drum corps into a theatrical show which brings the power, passion and precision of outdoor pageantry to the stage in a musical performance now known as Blast!

If you go ...

What: Blast!

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8.

Tickets: $36, $40 and $45.

Information: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or www.upjarts.org.

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