by Genea L. Webb
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Reginald Brayon promises new twists and more high energy this time around when Drumline Live crashes onto the Benedum Theater stage for a one-night only performance on February 26 as part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust PRESENTS series.
“We’re excited to be coming back to Pittsburgh. It has always been a good market for us and we are trying to bring the experience of the Historically Black College and University football game half-time show to Northern markets,” said Brayon, producer and company manager of “Drumline Live!
“We’re based out of Atlanta and we take this for granted,” Brayon continued. “We have sold out shows in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other places, because the show is unique there is nothing else like it. Having a marching band on stage is unique. The show is something for all ages. You can relate to it, you can bring your kids and you don’t have to worry about content.”
Drumline Live is a theatrical show from the executive consultants of the hit 2002 movie, “Drumline,” which starred Nick Cannon and Orlando Jones. Realizing that they had a pot of gold in their hands, creator and director Don P. Roberts and company put together a high-powered stage show that traces the heritage of the Historically Black Colleges and University marching bands, with a concentration on the event’s percussion section and high energy dancing, stepping, costumes and stage effects.
The tradition of the show-style marching band was created more than 50 years ago at Florida A& M University, the nation’s preeminent Black college marching band school.
HBCU marching bands began as support for the college football team. Over time, they have grown into a sport of their own featuring high stepping, funky dance rhythms and a musical score ranging from top 40 to classical. This year’s production includes former “American Idol” Judge Paula Abdul’s hit, “Cold Hearted Snake.”
“We’ve taken the excitement of an HBCU football game halftime show increased the intensity by a thousand watts and created a musical journey that will touch every emotion,” said Roberts who created Drumline Live in 2006.
It is co-produced by Halftime Live, LLC and Columbia Artists Management, Inc.and features a 40-50 person crew including trained musicians, dancers, singers and actors ranging in age from 19 to 36.
“We’re proud of the artists we have,” Brayon said. ‘We go through live auditions and people can also audition on the Internet and through You Tube. We require people to play multiple instruments, dance and sing. It’s not easy to find that in one person. We’re always looking for talent. We do 10 days of rehearsal for about 12 hours a day and that’s it. It’s very grueling, but we do send music ahead of time and clips to work on and choreography.”
That eclectic mix of multi talented performers is what keeps audiences coming back each time Drumline Live roars into their city.
“We’ve been in some places the audiences are primarily Caucasian,” Brayon said. “Seventy to 80 percent of our audiences are White. We don’t see Blacks until we get into metropolitan areas. We always get a lot of great comments from people. Those who haven’t seen the show think that it’s mostly drums, but there is a full marching band on stage.”
Brayon said “Drumline Live” started off as one show in Macon, Ga. and Tennessee, places that were within a two-hour radius of Atlanta.
“We were excited to be getting it out to the public. None of us had a theater background–my background is in accounting and business–and we partnered with Columbia Arts Management and we were able to pull on their knowledge,” he said.
Tickets for Drumline Live, which will be held at the Benedum Center at 7:30 p.m., begin at $28. To purchase tickets visit www.pgharts.org or call 412-456-6666.