‘Orangemen’ peel a slice of inspiration from Blue Man Group


M.V. Moorhead
Photo by Billy Hardiman

corona_pep_rally_004Orange is the new Blue. At least it is at
Corona del Sol. The Percussion Ensemble
from the high school’s powerhouse music
department has decided, in recent performances, to
style themselves after Blue Man Group, the popular
percussion/pantomime theatrical troupe.
But, this being Corona del Sol, Blue won’t do—the
players now call themselves the Orangemen, and
affect the cueball-topped look of their mentors, but in
a more citrusy shade.
“A mix of comedy, drumming, a little bit of social
statement.” That’s how Scott Werner, the percussion
director at Corona, describes Blue Man Group.
Members of the internationally recognized troupe
recently spent some time teaching their performance
techniques to Werner’s own ensemble.
How did he arrange that? The answer is simplicity
“I asked,” says Werner, a University of Illinois
and ASU grad. “And the management sent Jesse
Knowlan. He’s the musical director of the Blue Men.
It was free, and he also brought one of the Blue Men
with him.”
Blue Man Group’s tour was playing at Gammage
Auditorium in Tempe at the time. Werner says that
the pair came to the school to coach his students
“I think, just to be nice guys. They’re touring the
country, and it gave them a break from hanging out
in the hotel. They were supposed to come for an
hour, and they stayed for three. It was very generous
of them.”
Part of Blue Man Group’s routine involves bizarre
percussion instruments, and this was part of their
tutorial to the Corona “Orangemen.”
As a result, the ensemble now plays drums with
paint and water on the skins, and also performs
on the Tube-A-Phone, a huge instrument made of
PVC pipe which can be struck to produce different
pitches. Where and how did Corona del Sol’s music
department acquire such unusual additions to its
percussion battery?
Again, Werner’s answer is impressively direct:
“I made them.”
Capitalizing on their Blue Man coup, the school’s
Percussion Ensemble has taken to wearing bald caps
in the troupe’s style, and bright orange makeup.
They’ll perform this way at the Ensemble’s concert,
scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, March 25
and 26.
Having won a March 1 competition at Mesquite
High School, the Corona Ensemble will also be
performing at the Winter Guard International
competition in Dayton, Ohio, on April 10.
Also performing at the March 25 and 26 shows
will be Corona’s Steel Bands—not only the main one
but a junior band and even one comprised of parents.
“We’ll do ‘Friend Like Me’ from Aladdin,” says
Werner of the Steel Band’s repertoire. “We got to
play at Disneyland a couple of years ago, and so we
always do a Disney number.”
The program is also scheduled to include the
catchy Pharrell Williams anthem “Happy” from
Despicable Me 2, which should sound cool on steel
drums, and also, says Werner, “Some authentic stuff
from the island, from Trinidad.”
At this writing, reports are that none of the Steel
Bands will be orange.
Except, of course, in spirit.



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