Spinning, sparkling presents

Richard Cravens provides a fresh look at the development of the Christmastime concept

“When you do a Christmas show, you’re riding the fine line of being cheesy,” said Richard Cravens, a former Blue Man, who comes on tour with The Cadets as a creative consultant whenever he can.

This is the challenge for The 2012 Cadets’ design team. How do we commit to the theme without obnoxiously beating it over people’s heads? Christmastime is the feeling, the atmosphere of the show, but it is not the core message. So far, this hasn’t posed any major concerns in “Carol of the Bells” It’s fast, pure drum corps. But “Jingle Bells” is a risky song choice because of its many hokey interpretations. So while it is designed to be the most fun song in 12.25, it has to stay far from tacky.

Richard played a huge role in developed the angel and demon personas last year, as well as the toy soldiers’ of 2010. He arrived in Johnstown two days ago and dove right in yesterday, helping our transportation director, Jay Travis, build some presents out of corrugated plastic for the color guard to spin in “Jingle Bells.”

“We changed a lot today” Richard said as he duck-taped the shell of a Christmas present together. “Before, the guard wasn’t doing much of anything, but now a bunch of them are spinning presents, while the rest have a rifle in one hand and a sabre in the other.”

When he’s not gift-wrapping, Richard spends much of his time with the color guard, coming up with effective ways for them to personify the show theme without it feeling gimmicky. He’s been an invaluable addition to The Cadets’ team, and his Blue Man Group experience helps us convey a clear message to the audience using few to no words.

After they the boxes are securely taped up and glued together, they covered them in the iridescent tape we used for the dowels in last year’s show. “It’s different,” he said. “No one’s ever seen spinning presents before, and the tape creates a really cool effect.”

George arrived again yesterday, so the team will continue to modify the show concept while the instructional staff and members work hard to clean all that they know so far.

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