After two years without a full performance, Naperville Central High School’s (NCHS) annual Drumshow returned to the stage for public performance. The cast, made up of 12 high school students, prepped for months ahead of performances the weekend of April 8.
Every morning at six a.m., starting at the beginning of 2022, cast members of Drumshow had rehearsals until the first bell for school. For the cast, the months of preparation were worth it. “It’s so amazing, I mean, doing this is, like, a once in a lifetime thing, and it’s so unreal, it just feels awesome,” said Drumshow cast member Steven Hoffman.
Drumshow has been an annual fixture at NCHS for over twenty years. However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not been able to have a public performance. In 2020, Drumshow was canceled altogether, and in 2021, the cast did a private performance for family. Brandon Estes, assistant director for Drumshow and associate director of bands at NCHS, said they are excited to be back to full performances.
“It’s great to see the kids performing,” Estes said. “The last couple of years have been tough, so we’re sort of re-engaging audiences and sort of re-inventing the concept of Drumshow for those who have never seen it. We’re so excited to have the audiences we’ve had over the course of this weekend and we’re thankful for the community and the support.”
What is Drumshow?
Drumshow is different from the usual concerts that an audience might see from a percussion ensemble. Not only does it include high-level percussion pieces, but cast members also dance and sing on stage. This year’s show even featured a whole car on stage, which cast members drummed on and danced around. Director of Drumshow Tim Berg said teaching the students how to perform is a top priority when preparing for Drumshow.
“I’m very big on teaching the kids how to perform and understanding the difference between just playing and performing,” Berg said. “There’s always a moment, usually on a Friday morning when we do the elementary concert for the fifth graders, and the fifth graders are screaming and going ‘aah!’ and the kids, like, turn it on, and it’s a full on sprint through the weekend.”
Estes said this is an important and enriching part of Drumshow. “The most rewarding part of doing Drumshow is seeing our students, especially the ones who are more introverted, the ones who are more to themselves come out of those shells and perform,” Estes said.
Well Trained Group
The cast members have been playing percussion for years, with one even starting as a percussionist because of Drumshow. Freshman Oliver Gardner first got inspiration when he was five years old at Drumshow’s “Instrument Petting Zoo,” a hands-on demo area for young, potential percussionists.
“Since I was five, when I tried out full drum set on the Instrument Petting Zoo, I wanted my own drum set,” Gardner said. “I immediately started with percussion because I immediately found that love at the Instrument Petting Zoo, and since then one of my biggest goals with percussion has been to play in Drumshow.”
“It’s really exciting, the energy, you just feed off [the audience] and you can tell the audience is enjoying it and having a really good time, which makes you enjoy it even more,” Ducharme said. “It’s an experience you won’t get anywhere else, and it’s hard to describe. The best way I can try to describe it is people just having fun and rocking out, getting the audience involved and just having a good time.”
Preparation for next year’s Drumshow will start again next fall, and Estes said he hopes the tradition will continue for a long time.
“We look forward to keeping Drumshow alive for many years to come, and thank you to the community for supporting it,” Estes said.
Naperville News 17’s Sahi Padmanabhan reports.
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