The Blue Devils of Concord, California have traveled the world to bring the wonders of the most successful corps in Drum Corps International history to France, the Netherlands and Japan. Wishing to further explore an exotic locale, for 1997 the corps has set down anchor in the Moroccan seaport of Casablanca, the inspiration for one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time.
The Blue Devils 1997 program, As Time Goes By... inspired by the great movie Casablanca, is a view of the goings-on in Morocco during the exciting and dangerous times of the early 1940s. World War II was in full swing across the Mediterranean and the world powers were grid locked in an impending cataclysmic struggle. Amidst this chaos, Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund, played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, were stunned to find love in the hearts and souls of each other, becoming one of the most glaring examples of the phrase, "opposites attract."
Rick, the Bogart character who ran Rick's Cafe Americain, purportedly was an iron-willed soul who cared for nothing other than his own well being and no one other than his own self. We eventually learned this was not the case, as he put himself at great risk to fight off the encroachment of the Nazis and then released his only love from the bonds of his heart so she might survive to live another day in peace.
The Blue Devils explore this poignant love story filled with moments of harrowing escapes and altruistic heroism amidst the jarring chaos of a war that respected the commitments of love of no one.
The show is set in four scenes that create individual moods and temperaments on the field, drawing us into the story line amidst Blue Devils' unique sense of pageantry that enraptures and captivates the senses.
Scene I (This day and age we're living in) entitled The Marketplace, is based on music from Max Steiner's soundtrack to the movie, Casablanca as well as Bangkok, by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. The music is as exotic as the locales that inspired the titles and is interpreted from Rick's perspective, starting with Rick alone with his own thoughts as the melody from "As Time Goes By" wafts across the field. The theme builds into the climax which leads us through a musical gateway into the intense musical/visual rhythms of the Moroccan marketplace, where the costumed guard interprets the giddy excitement of being surrounded by the intrigue-laced atmosphere.
Scene II (Relax, relieve the tension) takes us through the doors of Rick's Americain, with music based on Dizzy Gillespie's jazz classic, A Night in Tunisia. Part of the scene will unveil the meeting in the cafe between Rick and the Ilsa, featuring a torrid dance scene by the guard (with appropriately colorful dance attire) as only the Blue Devils' guard can dance. This piece hammers home the style of jazz one has come to expect and anticipate from Blue Devils, no-holds-barred jazz that lifts one's spirits and steals one's breath, including a "death-defying" soprano feature that risks blowing the players' lips up the coast and across the Straights of Gibraltar. Look for the upright Latin-style 1940s cocktail drum sets that are played by the tenor drummers, adding a musical and visual authenticity unlike anything we've ever heard or seen on the field.
Scene III (A case of do or die) is titled Conflict in Casablanca and is based on the fast and intense strains of Alberto Ginastera's Harp Concerto, Opus 25. The Argentinean composer grew up in a country that was profoundly affected by the post-war effects of Nazism. Many of the German nationals fled across the ocean to escape the wrath of a society angered by horrific war crimes committed in the name of Hitler. In this scene, the Germans are causing many problems that are making life uncomfortable for those who wish the war would simply go away. The music is full of tension, reflected in the pace of the drill and the demeanor of the guard work.
Scene IV (The world will always welcome lovers) is titled and based on Herman Hupfeld's immortal torch song love ballad, As Time Goes By. Full of passion and yearning for a resolution to the conflict, the hot and steamy work asks if Rick will abandon his beloved Casablanca and his previously-hidden commitment to helping his fellow humans, or if he will stay and quietly fight for justice in the private manner that helped keep his opinions so secret up to the end of the movie. To follow his new love he would have to give up his destiny to help others. To stay he would have to release the one woman who touched his heart unlike any other. It's a momentous decision that adds substantial drama to the conclusion of Blue Devils' program and in expected BD fashion, one will be left on the edge of one's seat awaiting the outcome.
And when it is all said and done, as Blue Devils leave the field to the emotional applause and cheers of the audience, the corps will figuratively put their collective hands on the fans' collective shoulders, will look deep into our eyes and will softly murmur, "Here's looking at you, kid."