A show that has been three years in the making is finally coming to fruition on Sunday.
Comedy icon Steve Martin will take the stage in Burruss Auditorium at 7:30 p.m., along with the bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers, for an evening of music and comedy.
Presented by the Virginia Tech Union, the show has the potential to be the biggest VTU lively arts production this year, according to Laura Bedenbaugh, the assistant director of Student Programming.
“It’s an amazing amount of talent (coming to Blacksburg),” Bedenbaugh said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I think it’s going to be one of those very different kinds of Virginia Tech memories for the average student. This is someone who is an icon coming right to your front step.”
Martin, a legend in the entertainment industry, is one of the most multifaceted performers today. An actor, comedian, author, playwright, producer and musician, Martin is stopping in Blacksburg as a part of his tour with Steep Canyon Rangers.
Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers have been playing together since 2009. They released their first collaborative record, “Rare Bird Alert,” in March 2011. The record debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Bluegrass Chart and No. 43 on Billboard 200.
Bedenbaugh, who has seen Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers perform twice, emphasizes that these are two individual, but equally incredible, acts coming together to make a great performance.
“Steep Canyon Rangers are their own band,” Bedenbaugh said. “I saw them perform at The Lyric, and they are so amazing. They can really hold their own.”
In fact, Steep Canyon Rangers’ latest solo record “Deep In The Shade,” released in 2009, remained in the Billboard’s Bluegrass Top 10 for 18 weeks.
Martin, who began playing the banjo as a teenager, can hold his own as well. In 2009, he won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album with “The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo.”
If Martin’s musical prowess comes as a surprise, you’re not alone, said VTU director of lively arts DezaRae Beers, a junior communication major.
According to Beers, the first thing that comes to her mind when thinking of Martin is his movies, like “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Pink Panther.” But now she is aware of his other side.
“He is so talented at so many different things, and I think it’s going to be good for a lot of Tech students to experience both his comedic side and his musical side,” Beers said.
Even Bedenbaugh was initially surprised to discover Martin’s musical talents. However, ever since seeing a clip on YouTube of Martin and Steep Canyon Rangers performing, Bedenbaugh has wanted to book him at Tech. Bedenbaugh said many factors had to come together to finally make the show a reality at Tech.
While the show has been on VTU’s radar for three years, Bedenbaugh said it couldn’t have happened without the help of students like Beers. Beers and the rest of the lively arts department have been preparing for the show since Martin confirmed in August.
“The thing that makes all of the hard work worth it for me is when I’m at the show,” Beers said. “Right when the show starts, my favorite thing to do is look at the audience as soon as the first word is said and see the audience smiling or laughing.”
Booking Martin was not only a career highlight for Beers but also a huge win for VTU, Bedenbaugh and Beers said.
“It’s going to be very different from anything we’ve had because he’s such a comedy legend,” Bedenbaugh said.
Bedenbaugh and Beers agree that the show will be a success because Martin is such a cross-generational performer.
“Martin is one of those people that, no matter your age, you know who he is, and you get excited about it,” Beers said.
Tickets are still available, although they are selling fast, according to Bedenbaugh. Tickets are $15 for students, $35 for faculty and staff, and $40 for the general public. They are available online, by phone and at the ticket office in Squires Student Center.