Darius Rucker is apparently out to prove that there is life after being a soft-rock staple/punchline: His country crossover is continuing apace, and he recently notched a second chart-topper on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs. And this weekend, the works of his pre-Nashville band, Hootie and the Blowfish, will serve as the inspiration for a jukebox ballet going up in Columbia, S.C. “I wanted to celebrate one of the positive success stories that has come out of South Carolina,” Columbia City Ballet artistic director William Starrett said of The Hootie & The Blowfish Ballet. And I wanted a story that read like an April Fool’s Day joke but was actually real! Everybody wins!
Before we go any further: Check out this poster!
In his efforts to keep the production true-to-life, the production features a scene at move-in day for USC, with the now-demolished Towers dorms putting in an appearance on the day when Mark Bryan and Darius Rucker ended up living on the same floor. There are also scenes of their cover band days at a Five Points bar modeled after Rockafellas.
“We even have a set that has a blue Econo van, where we follow them through their early touring days,” Starrett says. “The turning point is at their college graduation when they decided to go forward with the band, writing their own songs: There’s a huge fight on a front porch, their original drummer leaves to go into religious life, and when Soni auditions the first song he brings in is, ‘Hold My Hand.’”
Starrett’s expertise with big productions is sure to make the second act memorable, with huge video screens on each side of the stage to give the audience up-close views of the action.
He describes it as, “like MTV, but even more so.”
Starrett’s only regret with the production is that it will most likely be a one-time thing given the schedules of the band members, one of whom, Darius Rucker, is supporting a hit country album.
“When you see all the work that has gone into this, it’s a shame we couldn’t tour it,” he says. “But you never know, maybe we’ll get to do it again some time.”
Given Rucker’s recent run of defying the odds, I’d say that a national tour of this thing is going to take place within, oh, the next six months or so.