Turn It Up is... surprisingly good. The cast is enormous compared to past shows on the Grande Bandstand, and it's by far the most talented cast I've ever seen in a vocal music show at Kings Dominion. I daresay the vocals rival those of Busch Gardens. Voices were strong and, in a rarity for Kings Dominion shows, actually on-key. I was shocked by how good the singers were, even taken on their own terms.
The show also features live musicians. There was a drummer with a full drum set, two electric guitar players, a conga drum player (who I believe was also a vocalist), and several brass players (the instruments varied from trombones, saxophones, and trumpets throughout the show). The instruments added another dimension to the show, and parts of the show focused explicitly on the talented musicians. This was the best use of live musicians I've seen in a Kings Dominion show, barring the Clown Band.
The show itself is, of course, another one of the "pop music" shows that have performed on International Street for the past handful of years. I'm still not an enormous fan of that genre, but for what it is, Turn It Up is as good as it gets. The production felt polished and high-quality. The pace was quick, and the show never dwelled too long on any one segment of the show. There was zero "filler", and the selections flowed seamlessly from one segment to the next. Even though I don't like the genre, Turn It Up's quality makes up for it. In a lot of ways, its style reminds me of a condensed version of Cedar Point's signature Luminosity show.
The greatest aspect of the show was its energy. This may wear off after opening weekend, but the cast was absolutely bursting with energy and enthusiasm. The main "host" who engages the crowd in between and during songs had so much energy in his voice that it really resonated with the crowd. You could really sense the excitement in the cast, and it contributed greatly to the feel of the show.
The costumes are nice, too. They're more elegant than outfits from past shows, which add a sort of "classy" (for lack of a better word) feel to the show. The set, which sort of transforms the Grand Bandstand into a larger, multi-layer stage, is also well-crafted.
Now, I didn't think the show was perfect. There were two segments in particular that I disliked. The first was when when the cast lip synced "Watch Me" (the Whip/Nae Nae song) and did the corresponding "dance." I thought the lip syncing cheapened the show, especially since it has such a strong vocal arrangement. Later, the cast encouraged audience participation as they took to the path and asked everyone to join in on "The Wobble," which they again lip synced (ugh). It was also somewhat cringeworthy, as most of the audience just stood still as the cast desperately tried to get more people to participate. It made me a little uncomfortable.
Also, the setup for the audience is awful. As in the past, the only true place to sit near the Grande Bandstand is the landscape islands at the base of the Eiffel Tower, which can only seat a few dozen people. This forced the rest of the audience to stand awkwardly in the path between the base of the Eiffel Tower and the Bandstand, which not only blocked the view for those sitting but blocked the flow of traffic passing through the path. A lot of people, myself included, were forced to sit on the hot, rocky asphalt, which was not comfortable- and people passing through kept tripping over us (literally). The park really needs to set up some sort of seating area for the show. Turn It Up generated a massive crowd (I would say several hundred people were gathered to watch), so the current setup really needs some help.
I'll try to post some pictures soon, and I hope to get a video of the full show in the next few weeks. The show isn't perfect, but it's the best vocal show I've ever seen at Kings Dominion, as well as the best pop show the Grande Bandstand has ever seen. I wasn't expecting much, but now I have to recommend checking this show out. It was far better than I could have ever expected.