BLAST! BLASTS OFF AT UCLA
                 

REVIEW by Willard Manus

A high-energy show that makes similar attractions such as STOMP and RIVERDANCE look tame, BLAST! features a 52-person company of youthful performers culled from universities across the country that specialize in drill teams. Whipped into shape by artistic director James Mason (who has been involved with drum and bugle corps for 25 years) and choreographers James Prime and Jonathan Vanderkolff, these college kids not only play various instruments (everything from brass and drums to didgerydoo and euphonium), but march, dance, leap, soar, juggle, clown and twirl, at juggernaut speed and volume.

Aided by Mark Thompson's split level, see-through set (and spiffy costumes) and Hugh Vanstone's dazzling lighting design, BLAST! is a treat for the eyes as well as the ears. Though much of it is kitschy (pop versions of Ravel's Bolero and Lecuona's Malaguena), the show is put across with such verve and pageantry that it comes off as an exhilirating example of pure entertainment. BLAST! was seen for sixteen late-summer performances at UCLA's Royce Hall and kicked off Broadway/LA;s 2002-2003 season. The show is touring nationally; visit www.BlastTheShow.com. Broadway/LA's phone number is (323) 463-4367