Don P. Roberts offers a confident guarantee: The DRUMLine Live Holiday Spectacular on December 29 at The Smith Center will be a holiday show like no other that audiences have seen.
“If you come expecting some nice, quiet gospel or classical selections, you’ll be disappointed, because it will be so much more,” he says with a laugh. “You’re going to see ballet and hip-hop and rhythm and blues. You’ll hear Ariana Grande and Michael Jackson and even a little bit of Bing Crosby. That’s what makes us different, is we’re not dedicated to any one genre.”
Roberts knows how to put on a show-stopping display, after serving as executive band consultant for the hit “Drumline” feature films, showcasing the electrifying showmanship and talent behind the marching band tradition of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
He has brought this high-octane performance style to stages around the world with DRUMLine Live, featuring elite musicians, dancers and vocalists of the HBCU legacy.
When Roberts and his colleagues sparked the idea of turning this theatrical production into a holiday show, he instantly knew it would be a great fit.
“What says the holidays more than marching bands, be it the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Rose Parade?” he says. “We’ve put a theatrical swing on it, and we’ve made it our own.”
A Show Spanning the Holiday Spectrum
Regardless of your age or musical preference, the DRUMLine Live Holiday Spectacular will have something for you, Roberts assures.
Featuring spectacular holiday costumes and visuals, the show will feature energizing performances of holiday melodies spanning Motown hits, the Nutcracker Suite, seasonal classics and contemporary pop hits.
“I’m a little old school, but I keep myself around young colleagues and people who want to cover generations (of music) that I might not cover,” he says.
He made sure to select music that covered every holiday, he adds, spanning Kwanza, Christmas and Hanukkah.
The “surprise factor” is what truly makes the show, he emphasizes, noting that Santa, elves and many other characters are very likely to make an appearance.
“It’s a family show, but you can’t expect what we’re going to be doing,” he says.
The HBCU Legacy Lives On
Roberts’ driving priority remains staying true to the dazzling, flawless performance standard of the HBCU legacy.
That means keeping a strong focus on fiery musicianship, complex step routines and a sizzling, contagious energy.
“The movie ‘Drumline’ brought worldwide exposure to the HBCU marching bands, and now so many artists like even Beyoncé at Coachella see what we’re doing and they want a piece of it,” he says, citing how the popstar incorporated HBCU performers in her Coachella performance. “We feel like DRUMLine Live is representing that brand.”
SEE THE SHOW
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