Growing up only 10 miles outside of New York City, I find it surprising that I didn’t go to my first Broadway show until 2001, when I was a junior in high school. We did go to many baseball games so maybe that was the trade-off. It was either theater or baseball. Anyway, my first show was not one of the classics but instead an energetic show that mixed instrumentals, acrobatics, and even color guard moves in a series of different songs called Blast!.
Think hip drumline, sharp and sometimes sensual moves, touches of comedy, and the use of classic songs along with the inclusion of techno, rock, and more.
I saw it with some members of the marching band (I was a majorette a.k.a I twirled a baton) and was totally captivated. For a group of people who heard how “uncool” band was way too frequently, Blast! proved music and movement were a pretty unstoppable and amazing combination. (I can’t forget how one of the trumpet players sat in front of us during the show and chatted. That was fun.) Later on, we incorporated some of their music and moves into our half-time show.
The same year, Blast! won a Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event — a historic victory as it was the first show to ever receive that particular award. Even more exciting? A compact version of the show made its way to Epcot and California Adventure later that year too.
I was lucky enough to see a performance of this The Power of Blast! presentation at the American Gardens Theater, where it played from June 16 – August 23, during one of my summer vacations. At that time, they offered a dining plan with preferred seating for the show.
The original 2-act, 16-number show was whittled down to 30 minutes and five songs, which included:
2. Color Wheel
3. Battery Battle
4. Land of Make Believe
Sidenote: Malguena is my favorite. And fun fact: our marching band performed Bolero, Land of Make Believe, and Malaguena during our half-time shows, and I’m pretty sure we also performed them in a festival in the UK that summer.
The performance at Epcot was just as enthusiastic and amazing as the one I had seen on Broadway a few months before. Epcot’s The Power of Blast! featured 63 performers representing 24 different states with 66 brass instruments and 234 percussion instruments. I remember how psyched I felt during the show, connecting it to my own memories of the music and seeing it on the Broadway stage in New York. If you’re interested in checking out the full performance, here’s a video of it.
For a taste, here’s a performance of Malguena (sadly, not the Epcot one):
While it’s not necessarily innovative to showcase a shortened/tweaked version of Broadway goodness in the parks (i.e. Beauty and the Beast at the Studios, Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom), I would love to see something just as dynamic and creative as Blast! be part of the park experience once again.
Who knows? With the success of Newsies and Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway this season, maybe we do have that to look forward to.