There's a new theater performance troupe on the horizon that drum corps fans will be eager to check out. "Odyssey" will be an all-female brass, percussion and color guard ensemble comprised of women who are versatile in musicianship, dance and athletics.
Billed as a "poetic journey of music and motion through city streets, on a train, the ocean and the sky," the production will start rehearsing in California in September and will premier in major cities in Japan during December, with a current schedule of 47 performances.
The creative forces behind Odyssey are no strangers to drum corps fans. Ray Linkous (former member of Star of Indiana and the theater production "Blast!" in addition to staff member of Crossmen, the Cadets and Carolina Crown) is the casting director, director of the music ensembles and company manager. Scott Chandler is the co-artistic director, along with Wayne Downey, who is the music director. Chandler will also be co-choreographer with Karl Lowe. David Glyde and Jim Wunderlich also serve on the creative team, working with percussion and the audio design. Each of these five esteemed personalities have enjoyed extensive connections with the Blue Devils.
In addition, Terry Valentine, who has served as a director of the former DCI member corps Magic of Orlando, is the ensemble's coordinator for logistics in the United States prior to the departure for Japan. Onodera Shinichi is serving as production consultant and will be coordinating the troupe's tour in Japan.
According to the production's design team, a special focus of the show will be performers creating energy through acting as well as musical performance. The troupe is looking for members who are not shy about expressing themselves, members who have no problem asserting their power and authority as performers.
The show is conceived as a visual poem, utilizing musical genres as diverse as American blues and jazz and Argentinean tango, infused with a variety of classical and contemporary styles. The overall arc of the show creates the sensation of being on a physical journey through the world of music as well as a more literal journey of travel through the physical world.
The troupe will consist of 24 brass, 10 percussion and 8 dance/prop specialists. Expressive movement will draw heavily on the drum corps genre.
Why is Odyssey starting its tour in Japan? The Min-On Concert Association (Min-On.org), a non-profit organization in Japan, is well known for its involvement in bringing to Japan ensembles from dozens of countries to bridge the culture gap between the East and West. Min-On is keenly aware of the phenomenal audience interest in Japan of young women in the world of music and marching. It is expected this interest will result in the performers of Odyssey being welcomed as rock stars to the stages of Japan.
American drum corps fans should not despair. There are plans to bring Odyssey to the United States prior to the troupe's return to Japan in 2010.
Those interested in auditioning for the production are encouraged to check out Odyssey's Web site at BrassOdyssey.com