According to information provided by Gas South Broadway Series, “Blast!” stems from the drum corps Star of Indiana that was founded in 1984 in Bloomington, Ind., by businessman Bill Cook. In its first year, it was the first corps to place among the Top 10 corps at the Drum Corps International World Championships and became World Champion in 1991. In 1993, James Mason, artistic director, transformed the competitive drum corps into the theatrical show known at “Blast!”
Cast members, who have more than 40 world titles, make up three performing sections — the brass, percussion and visual ensembles. In addition to the sounds, the group will provide a one-of-a-kind visual experience with multi-color elements including performing with flags and sabers.
The cast has 35 members, including Lindsey Gray, a graduate of the University of Georgia. She said the show has something for everyone.
The longtime French horn player has performed with organizations such as The Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony. She was a member of the marching band at Brookwood High school in Gwinnett County and performed in the wind ensemble and orchestra, among others, at UGA. After graduating in December 2010 with a music education degree, Gray auditioned and became a member of “Blast!” in July 2011.
“I didn’t have anything lined up (job wise),” she said. “This was kind of a blessing.”
Gray said preparation for “Blast!” is intense. It takes nearly two months to prep for the show. She said they start off with the most dangerous and fastest movements in rehearsal — when every section is on stage.
“All the brass players are on. The dancers are throwing and twirling their equipment. There are the percussionists who are wearing drums, and they are also on stage running around, too,” she said. “It’s the most dangerous because it’s such tight quarters already and there are so many people on stage and it’s definitely the fastest tempo. We have to really know where we’re going.”
Tai chi is also part of the prep, which Gray said helps them with energy and awareness. To add to the theatricality of the performance, the musicians participate in ice-breaker exercises and acting classes. Different colors convey moods, and Gray said the musicians have to express that not only in sound, but actions.
“Most of us have musical background, and we’ve never had to do the acting part of it,” she said. “Sitting down in an orchestra, you don’t have to worry about what your face looks like.”
She said her favorite part of the two-hour show is the “Red” number, which is the last performance. “It starts off kind of slow, kind of sultry. Then the music gets faster and louder and the stage erupts with color,” she said. “The dancers come out with these huge red flags. There’s color everywhere. (The audience is) so amazed.”
Once the U.S. tour of “Blast!” ends in April, Gray and her fellow performers will head to Japan. She has never been to there and said she is looking forward to it because the show is “huge” there.
“The Japanese culture just loves music. They love the performing arts. They love marching band and drum corps so they just think the show is phenomenal,” she said.
Music styles include techno-pop, blues, jazz and Latin. Of the visual elements, Gray said, “Every sense of you will be stimulated. Visually, there’s so much going on. There’s color, people move around and there are costume changes. I think all ages will definitely enjoy it.”
Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets start at $25. An exclusive show for students is Friday at 11 a.m.
Tickets are available at the Bank of North Georgia Box Office at 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, 30339. Hours are Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information, visit www.blasttheshow.com or www.cobbenergycentre.com.