The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The stage roars to life as Blast goes beast-mode

Photo courtesy of Ananya Pandit
WCHS Blast members practice choreography and vocals in preparation for the outdoor shows this April. Formations for the numbers are based around the animal features.

With elaborate stage design, captivating vocals and thoroughly planned costumes, Blast is a revered WCHS tradition that attracts thousands of attendees every year. The Blast performances are centered around varied themes, with past themes such as “Amour” and “Unity.” Cast members sing and dance to student-directed songs within the chosen theme, with Blast leaders and directors being mindful that from poster design, to song choice, to styling, all facets of a show’s production must be aligned with the year’s theme. This year’s theme, “Blast: In The Wild” has inspired an innovative undertaking of making the set of the performances even more immersive.

“We have so many unique aspects to this year’s production that will make it stand out from any other Blast,” choral program and Blast director Matthew Albright said. “The shows will be held on the football field, rain or shine.”

This year, Blast will err on the side of wildness with outdoor performances. To accommodate for this, WCHS’s tech team has put inconceivable thought into coordinating mic-ing, stage design, lighting and attendee comfort. Wireless microphones will project the voices of the singers, and costumes will be approved with weather in mind. This includes light layers and vivid animal patterned pieces to draw attention to choreography.

“The stage design was extremely difficult to coordinate, but we ultimately decided on building a covered platform, constructing it all in pieces and assembling it on the field itself,” Tech director Benjamin Schnapp said. “We are also selling umbrellas with the Blast logo at the concession stand to account for rain, as April can be a wet month.”

Story continues below advertisement

Along with the unconventional setting, Blast has invited animals to embellish the performances. With several big numbers to look forward to, attendees can expect to be blown away by the variety and scale of the immersive experience. One such number is “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

“Making each of the 32 songs on the set list engaging and vibrant is an essential priority for all of us working to put Blast together this year, and ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is a perfect opportunity to do so,” Albright said.

Hoping to thrill viewers and bring “Eye of the Tiger” to life, the Blast team has hired a team of zoologists and contracted tigers from the Smithsonian National Zoo, located in DC. To promote safety and ethicality, the tigers will be carefully handled exclusively by the National Zoo’s zoologists and placed in enclosures for civilian security.

“The scale of this production is the largest to date, so we are really proud that we could bring this arrangement with the National Zoo to WCHS,” Albright said.

Funding this project raised some important questions and challenges. Ultimately, WCHS struck a unique and unprecedented deal with the National Zoo, as a member of the zoo’s board (remaining anonymous for privacy concerns) is a longtime Blast fan and former WCHS alumnus. As a result, the Blast team was able to hire zoologists and animals using only the Blast dues that each cast member pays upon enrollment.

“At first I was a little worried about where my money was going, but when I found out about the directors’ discounted deal with the National Zoo, I was so excited to be part of something so big and unconventional,” said WCHS sophomore Penelope Levy.

With additional appearances by cast members’ pets for songs such as “Dog Days of Summer” by Florence + The Machine, Blast is committed to making this year’s show vivid and unforgettable.

“We are so excited to bring a uniquely exciting Blast to the WCHS community this spring,” said Albright. “We can’t wait to see all our hard work in action.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Ananya Pandit
Ananya Pandit, Arts Editor
Ananya Pandit is a senior and is the Arts Editor for The Observer. This is her third year on staff. When she’s not writing, she loves to discover new music and learn new songs on her guitar. Her favorite artists are Phoebe Bridgers, Elliott Smith, and Adrianne Lenker. Ananya loves to bake sweet treats for her friends and family, and go on long drives.

Comments (0)

All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *