Marching Arts Memories:
Star of Indiana 1987
In an effort to reach back into the archives and really put on display shows that seem to get lost in the annals of history, here are Marching Arts Merch we are starting a new weekly series we're calling, "Marching Arts Memories" where we go back so one of those truly iconic shows and dig them out and bring them back to light. First up: Star of Indiana's 1987 production: "The Greatest Show on Turf".
As Stefon would say, this show has everything: great music, humor, impressive drill, world class musicality, and again, humor. I'm a big sucker for puns and jokes as is becoming painfully obvious through my writing here and right off the bat let's talk about that title. This is what I love to see in any titles of shows. For me, show titles can fall into two obvious categories: Short and Long. Short titles are the usual things you see out there like, "Babylon" or "Ghost Light". Something short, snappy, and to the point. The long titles are things like, "White Table: A Reflection on Youth" where it is more descriptive and maybe helps inform the audience about the show they are about to see in a way that helps explain.
This title really kicks it up a notch by being a longer title, sure, but the obvious reference to something we are all familiar with allows it to roll off the tongue faster and be in the more snappy range. And then when you get to the end where you feel yourself wanting to say "earth" but then to flip it and stick in "turf" as a reference to drum corps, I mean. It's great. A+ work to whoever came up with that. (And if you know who did and you could comment below that would be amazing).
The second thing I want to talk about here is costuming. And not the costuming of the color guard or the horn line, oh no. I want to talk about the costuming of the pit and drum majors. This is absolutely one of my favorite parts about this show. This is a design team who you can tell came up with an idea they love and just went for it which is something I think we can all learn a lesson from. When you pick a theme like, "circus", go for it. Swing big. The worst thing that happens is that it looks crazy but we're already spending our Saturdays doing band so maybe looking crazy isn't necessarily a problem.
Last, but not least, I wanted to talk a little bit about Star of Indiana in general. Now, I am not an expert on Star. I've read some about them but most of my knowledge just comes from what I hear about them and what I see floating around. After only 9 years of DCI competition, in which they were always a finalist and nabbed a title, Star of Indiana made the choice to stop competing. Why is that? Because they wanted to take all this expertise in production value and take it to a different stage. I don't think anyone in the activity could deny that they knew a thing or two about production value.
What came out of Star of Indiana is something no other drum corps has managed to do. Star became Blast!, a stage show which originally debuted in London that eventually found it's way to Broadway and snatched not only a Tony Award but also managed to get an Emmy Award out of a PBS recording that was done of the show. To me, that all started here in 1987. Back when Star was Star of Indiana and a team of absolutely brilliant production designers pushed the activity into becoming more theater than concert.