Saturday, February 28, 2009

'Drumline Live' brings marching band tradition to theater stage

"Drumline Live" brings the black marching band tradition to the theatrical stage for the first time in a 62-engagement U.S. tour, followed by dates in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

When actor Orlando Jones’ character in 2002’s “Drumline” urges his university marching band to “hit ‘em with a little ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’,” the band director’s not talking about serving up a sedate recital of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous 1900 orchestral work. This is musical warfare, and the operatic interlude’s dizzying sting of frenetic 16th-note runs becomes a weapon in a half-time battle to outdo high-stepping, percussion-pounding and brass-blasting opponents on the football field.

The film, starring Nick Cannon as a Harlem street performer recruited to join a drumline at a southern university, helped reignite interest in a tradition begun more than 50 years ago at Florida A&M University, where marching-band performances were as much about the high-energy music as the funky, athletic choreography.

“Drumline Live,” a stage show set to take over the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord (N.H.)on Wednesday, March 4, serves up a powerful drumroll in homage to that legacy with a cast of performers from some of the United State’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), institutions established prior to 1964 with the mission to educate black Americans.

NH Weekend recently asked “Drumline Live” creator and musical director Don P. Roberts about the powerhouse production, which features the rousing and rhythmic sounds of the likes of brass masters Earth, Wind and Fire and Tower of Power, along with contemporary hip-hop and R&B selections.


DRUMLine Live inspires audience Richmond Times-Dispatch
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