An excitable crowd estimated at 1,300 in New London, Conn., saw a real showdown last night at the Drum Corps on the Thames contest, as the Bluecoats of N. Canton, Ohio, turn in a 74.35, squeaking past the Crossmen (74.30) and the Boston Crusaders (74.15). "The stands were packed," said Crossmen tour director John Burgan. Although weather conditions were nearly perfect (74 degrees), field conditions were not -- potholes were filled with sand, according to Burgan, which caused several slippages. "We weren't amused when we saw it," Burgan said of the field, which Bluecoats' director Bill Hamilton described as a "sand trap." "The show committee did as well as they could, but it was really rough," Hamilton said. Despite the less-than ideal conditions, however, Hamilton said, "We were real happy, and very excited. We're happy to be performing this well this early." The Bluecoats had implemented a major change in the "Snared" section of its show, entitled, "Capture and Escape," last night. "We put in a pretty major change, and it went very well. We did a major rewrite -- new drill, new music, new guard work. We put it into a section that was good and made it better," Hamilton said of the one minute of changes that the corps augmented. The Connecticut audience reacted positively to the Bluecoats' show. "They were bloooing! The audience latched onto it right away," Hamilton said, elaborating that the crowd understood some of the "caught" sequences of "Capture and Escape," for instance. The one minute of adjustments the Bluecoats made yesterday are part of a major plan to revise the show that will be completed by the Southwestern Championship in San Antonio on July 19, Hamilton said. "We have a whole systematic plan for some enhancements here and there," including count extensions and drill reforms, Hamilton said. "Our show requires a lot of choreography and characterization -- and we have plans to implement them in the next several weeks," Hamilton said. Burgan, meanwhile, was pleased with the Crossmen's performance last night. "It was one of our most energetic performances," Burgan said. "The crowd bought into our program right from the beginning – they were one of the most exciting crowds we've performed to." Burgan said that the Crossmen will continue to refine their 2003 show in the coming weeks. "Once we're done with rewrites, it will be a tremendous program," Burgan said. "The program is evolving daily -- the kids are more and more comfortable with it. The energy level rises daily. The endurance and the demands -- marching and playing -- did not cause any issues. We were having endurance issues until last night." The Crossmen drum solo is proving to be a crowd favorite this year, according to Burgan. "The drum solo got 'em on their feet," Burgan said, particularly the segment that incorporates the mobile tom racks. But "They're digging our whole show," Burgan said, adding that the crowd clapped along with a part of "Welcome to the St. James Club."
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