Marching Position: 10
Organization: Polish American String Band
Captain: Mark Danielewicz
Theme Title: The Jokers Ball
Theme Concept: On the first day of 2010, the Polish American String Band wants to invite you to The Jokers Ball--black tie optional, but smiles are mandatory. The best way to connect with a stranger, comfort a friend, and warm the heart of a loved one is through--you guessed it--a smile. We need more of them around!
Presentation / Production / Props: The production pops with an explosion of color as the jokers of Polish American String Band burst onto the street. Trying to light up your face with gladness, the band marches forward to "Smile" while lively juggling jesters perform out front. The band won't be happy till they make you happy, too. That's why at the center of the street the glockenspiel goes POP! with a special surprise for the audience. Next, banjo and accordion players set the stage for an up-tempo swing that gets the audience to dance right out of their shoes at the "Darktown Strutters' Ball." The spotlight is center stage as 17 performers show off some impressive leg work with syncopated hand-clapping for the bench scene. Now that "Happy Days Are Here Again" the musicians and dancers break into a 3/4 colorful rhythmic waltz featuring traditional Philadelphia Mummers tri-tiered umbrellas. People forget their troubles and "Get Happy" as five low-pitched stringed upright bass fiddles serenade with their fancy finger work on the strings. Next, 20 performers do a soft-shoe shuffle and remind us that the world is a great world after all. Eight banjos, two accordions and a glockenspiel player perform "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile" on a layered stage. As the finale commences, the three primary pit band suits in colors of happiness (red, green and blue) open the stage for the banjo and accordion players to strut forward and make up your eyes with laughter with "Powder Your Face With Sunshine." The routine ends dramatically with symbol crashes and a bass line reminding us to "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella" whenever skies are gray.
Music Selections: INTRO: Layered percussion performs popping beats featuring an ensemble of cymbals, snare and timpani drums. "SMILE": This song, originally composed by Charlie Chaplin, tells the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, just as long as they smile. This arrangement features saxophones playing inverted harmonies to a 4/4 tempo as the banjos and accordions lead the band forward in the judging area. "I WANT TO BE HAPPY": This show tune is accentuated with articulated beats. Be sure to listen as the glockenspiel POPS! "DARKTOWN STRUTTERS' BALL": Alto and tenor saxophones effortlessly exchange a flurry of notes, creating an energetic feel for this popular standard while doing some fancy foot work during the bench scene. "HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN": This Tin Pan Alley standard is stylized as a 3/4 waltz including trades back and forth between tenor and alto saxophones with intriguing and demanding melodic lines. "GET HAPPY": This energetic gospel-influenced song features a powerful line of five low-pitched stringed upright bass fiddles, two bass and three baritone saxophones. Alto and tenor saxophones mimic each other; at times, play in unison as the obstinate base line maintains a swing rhythm. "SMILE, DARN YA, SMILE!": This classic Merrie Melodies tune showcases the talents of the banjo, accordion and glockenspiel. Not to be outdone, saxophones materialize with a high-energy, colorful sound while transitioning into the finale. "POWDER YOUR FACE WITH SUNSHINE": This American standard features a tenor saxophone lead. Altos become visible for a quick line before receding, allowing the entire ensemble to trade the lead back and forth creating an energetic feel. "LET A SMILE BE YOUR UMBRELLA": As the routine ends, a dramatic feeling takes hold with symbol crashes and a bass line lead. Listen as the ensemble plays in harmony to finish the set.
Costume / Makeup: Musicians are outfitted in joker-style costumes with the same pattern, consisting of embroidered bengaline and fully-sequined satin fabrics accented with harlequin diamonds. The ensemble glitters with trimmed strands of gold and silver sequins, jewels and mirrors and is finished with pom-poms reminiscent of traditional jingle bells found on costumes of royal court jokers. Dancers are outfitted in full harlequin jester-style costumes, complete with trimmed sequin and pom-poms. The pit band musicians are outfitted in singular bright and gaudy primary colors signifying happiness and joy: red, green and blue. The perimeter band musicians are outfitted in a kaleidoscope of those colors. Dancers are decked out in a complementary secondary color--magenta, with violet and orchid accents. All jackets are knee-length and contain puffed sleeves with flowing pennant-shaped accents. The pants are finished with a flare bottom with complimenting pennant-shaped accents and pom-pom-tipped shoes. The hats are eccentric including a center crown with three primary points. The design compliments the harlequin diamonds on the jacket and is dotted with furry bell-like pom-poms. Musicians' costumes are exaggerated with back pieces of white ostrich plumes, oversized harlequin diamonds and flowing pennant-shaped accents fastened with jewels and mirrors. The pit band outfits include a 3'x 3' back piece, and the perimeter band outfits include a 7' x 7' back-piece with more than four dozen plumes each. The entire ensemble's base makeup is a classic white. The makeup covers the entire face and neck with none of the underlying flesh color showing and is accented with a white ruffled collar--and a smile!Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun