Five nights before their first nighttime performance of the year, the administration asked the Marching Band to rework the choreography of their halftime routine. The band had performed their “Gladiator” themed routine at two different home football games Aug. 28 and Sept. 11. The administration felt the routine was “too somber.”
The theme was based on the movie “Gladiator” and, according to members of the band, the choreography was modeled off the shows of professional drum corps. The routine included music custom-made for the band, included a battle scene between members of the band, and ended with the “death” of the drum major, Megan Piercy. Piercy collapses on the field at the end of the show after being killed by senior Color Guard captain Sydney Branch.
After receiving two to three complaints from parents, President Richard O’Hara and Principal Madelyn Ball met and made the decision to change the content of the halftime show.
Ball discussed the issue with the band on Monday. “We were told that a kid started crying because he thought [Megan] actually died, so we were told not to do any of the fighting or killing,[to] just take out the theatrics,” junior band member Mary Olsen said.
However, the original decision was different from the final verdict. “[The administration] asked at first if we could just stand on the field and play happy music like we do in the stands, but eventually we convinced them to let us do our show. We’re just not allowed to have any deaths,” Branch said.
According to Ball, while parents’ reactions to the nature of the show were taken into consideration, so were the reactions from potential donors.
“We’re starting to raise money for new band uniforms, and if we don’t have the audience really excited about the marching band, then it’s going to be really difficult to raise that money,” Ball said.
In addition to the first football game under the lights, Friday’s game is also a part of alumni weekend. “I have to meet the needs of our constituents, and this Friday night is a big night. It’s Alumni Weekend, so who do you think we’re going to be asking for money for the band uniforms? I certainly hope [the alumni] see something they want to contribute to,” Ball said.
The Marching Band’s season started on August 10 with two and a half weeks of band camp. Practice lasted almost eight hours every day. “[The band and Color Guard] spent almost 80 hours at band camp,” Olsen said.
According to members of the band, this is the first time the show has needed to be approved by the administration. “There’s never been a problem with our show before. There’s never been an approval process, our director almost always comes up with the idea for the show almost a year ahead,” Piercy said. Director Marc Bolden declined an interview.
“I think their show is really good, but for a football halftime show I do think it’s a little too intense,” senior cheerleader Becca DiRocco said.
The band has had five days to change their performance. “We are planning on performing [on Friday], we don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, but we will definitely be marching,” Piercy said.
An earlier version of this story stated that the band was the Pep Band and that they had not performed their full halftime routine. It has been brought to our attention that their correct name is the Marching Band and that they have performed their entire routine at both home games. Also, the terminology and reference to people in the choreography of the piece has been corrected as well.
Grace Mottley is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatiot.com.