Now in its 18th year, “Blast!” is a Broadway musical featuring exclusively brass and percussion instrumentation along with visually arresting performances. Boasting a Tony Award for “Best Special Theatrical Event” and an Emmy Award for “Best Choreography,” the production is showing in Tokyo until September 9, but with one very special twist – they’ve added a unique arrangement of Disney tunes to their repertoire. Here’s a quick look at some of the highlights of the show…
As the lights dim, the performance begins with a fairy-like figure in a sparkling, white outfit arriving on stage. She twirls her baton mesmerizingly as the audience applauds, and so the atmosphere is set. Or so you think. Blink twice and next thing you know the stage is filled with dancers and musicians; their gold brass instruments gleaming in the eye-blinding lights; the percussion pounding inside your chest.
“Blast!” is well-known for its impressive percussion. In fact, the original show – created in 1984 by James Mason – was called “Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps” and competed as a marching band in the Drum Corps International circuit. In 1991, they won the World Championship, before changing their name to “Brass Theater.” Eight years later, they debuted as “Blast!” at the Apollo Theater, and in 2001 opened on New York’s Broadway.
One of the show’s most unique elements is the fact that the musicians are the major players. In Mason’s own words, “the performers are the animators and actors of the show.” As they emerge from the orchestra pit and dazzle us with their the musical ability, it’s inspiring to see them keep up their level of playing while also dancing and acting in between. As director Micheal Raiford says, “’Blast!’ is like no other in the sense that it shows music in movement.” Some of our favorite moments, however, actually come during the intervals in between acts, when the performers interact and joke with audience members, letting you feel close to the action.
This year, the show has collaborated with Disney, so you’ll be treated to timeless masterpieces including “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” and even the mega-hit “Let It Go.” Composed by 34 musicians, including four Japanese artists, the act is 120 minutes of musical art performance, with the traditional music of Disney offering an element that kids will love, too.
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Images by Yow Kobayashi