Blue Man helps Cadets develop angel/demon character

Angel and Demon Diary: Cadets daily updates from the road

It rained some in Denver yesterday, but The Cadets made some changes in the show and had a good day of rehearsal. It was nice to finally have some extra hours to break things down and tweak the show.

First on the list was new drill from Jeff Saktig, who recently joined up with the corps to continue to work on the marching program. The first arrival point in the opener, “Angels in the Architecture,” is now paced a little differently. “We want the effect to be more compact so that we maintain momentum,” George Hopkins said. This also means a slight musical change and new choreography in this section.

The brass players will also be changing their visual interpretation of the ballad; George said this will “assist in cresting more impact.”

41229_1463260475787_1661736664_1116684_622670_n.jpgRichard Cravens, Jr. has played a key role in developing the characters of the angels and demons. Richard worked for Disney as an actor and musician for fourteen years. He became a Blue Man in January 2007 and performed in the famous Blue Man Group’s New York, Chicago and Orlando shows until March 2010. He is now a freelance actor/musician, and he began helping out with The Cadets’ visual program last summer.

“I’m the character consultant or performance consultant,” Richard said. “I work with them on developing the difference between the angels and demons, and specifically how that manifests itself through body and dance.”

Richard basically takes the design team’s ideas for the storyline of the show and helps bring them to life through movement. “A lot of what Blue Man does is storytelling without dialogue,” Richard said.  Blue Man Group is famous for their impressive ability to set different moods without speaking, and Richard is helping to bring that art to the drum corps field. “Drum corps is storytelling visually, and the music helps to create an emotional impact on the audience,” he said.

Richard works with The Cadets during visual rehearsal and gives each member of the corps ideas for how to develop their specific role. “You can see a glimmer in everyone’s eyes when they get more instruction about their character. They think it’s pretty cool.”

208094_1017014119907_1661736664_41981_1982_n.jpg“It starts with basic things like breathing,” he said. “The demons’ breathing is faster, and the angels are more calm. The demons’ eyebrows are always down. The angels always keep their chins up. The angels generally have defensive posture; they don’t initiate conflict. The demons are aggressive. They’re the ones attacking. I taught them to use their hands to represent claws, while the angels have open palms and outstretched arms” (picture an extended arm and a palm out in the “stop” position). “The demons pretty much stay on the balls of their feet. The angels are more grounded,” he said.

It’s amazing to see Richard act out the personality of the demons in contrast to his interpretation of the angels. Every time he explains a new character trait to the members, there is a distinct improvement in their acting. His acting talent is invaluable to this show, and as he said, the concept is continuing to grow.

“I think the great thing about this year is that you’re telling a story that people already know, so they’ll fill in the blanks for you,” Richard said. “The good thing about drum corps is that when you do shows like West Side Story and Les Mis, like the Cadets have done in the past, all you have to do is hit the highlights. The advantage is that everyone can get on board with the idea you’re presenting because they already have a basic understanding of the conflict between angels and demons.”

The Cadets have another long rehearsal day in Fort Collins, Colorado tomorrow, and the changes continue. George said that the visual staff will use the time to change all of the “pole work” in the battle sequence. They’re looking for more effect through more character development.IMG_2813.jpg

The corps is up at 8:00 a.m., and will rehearse from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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When you’re up at the crack of dawn on an airport run, sometimes you get to see things the rest of the corps doesn’t. Nic Broussard was driving back from Denver International Airport at 5:00 this morning; the sun was coming up through a very light rain. Here are some pictures of the sunrise and full double rainbow this morning. It’s difficult to do the rainbow justice.

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