One of Colt Cadets’ key objectives in show design is to be understandable and recognizable; its designers want fans to leave knowing exactly what they saw from the Dubuque, Iowa corps.

As such, the Open Class corps’ 2024 production centers around one of the world’s more familiar stories. 

“Little Red Riding Hood” tells the story of a young girl who ventures into the forest to visit her grandmother, but encounters a wolf who tricks her and devours her grandmother. The story, dating back in its origins to the late 17th century, has been adapted for dozens of literary and cinematic projects across an array of styles and genres. 

According to Colt Cadets show designers, while it won’t be a direct retelling, the corps’ 2024 production, “The Woods,” will aim to bring the world of the famed European fairy tale to life for audiences across the 2024 DCI Summer Tour.

The time has come to unveil our 2024 Colt Cadets program! Join the 2024 Colt Cadets on a harrowing adventure through THE...

Posted by Colt Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps on Thursday, March 28, 2024


“We're trying to not directly tell a story,” Colt Cadets program coordinator Steve Lyons said. “It’s not an attempt to tell a three-year-old kid the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ it's more of an attempt to get people to think of that imagery and latch onto it, and be really entertained with how they can make connections to these fairytales.”

The Dubuque, Iowa corps serves, first and foremost, as an educational and developmental home for young drum corps performers, with a general age maximum of 18 years old.

As such, Colt Cadets’ productions cater to an excited, albeit perhaps inexperienced, membership. 

“We are definitely trying to make students at that age level feel like they can dig into (the show theme) and entertain once they've mastered the material,” Lyons said. 

But further, Lyons noted that the corps’ goal is to prepare members for possible drum corps experience at the World Class level. As such, a key balance must be struck when preparing performance materials.

“We're thinking of our students as future Colts,” Lyons said. “So, we want our show design to reflect what the (World Class) Colts are putting out there as well. We want to prepare the members for a production that is accessible and entertaining.”

“It needs to be entertaining, impressive and excellent,” he added. “And that’s totally in our wheelhouse as a design team.”

In order to portray the world of “Little Red Riding Hood,” much of Colt Cadets’ music will be drawn from the classical and theatrical realms. 

The corps’ full repertoire includes music by Stephen Sondheim from the Broadway musical, “Into the Woods,” and DCI Hall of Fame member Jay Kennedy’s wind band work, “The Path Between the Mountains.” Arguably its centerpiece, though, is Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”

Despite its popular standing on the all-time list of classical literature for children, “Peter and the Wolf” has been utilized sparsely throughout drum corps history. According to data from, only four corps have performed Prokofiev’s work in the DCI era, with the most recent example in 2003. 

Ultimately, Colt Cadets’ decision to perform the iconic work stemmed from conversations with Colts brass consultant Tom Lizotte, and was made possible by way of inventive arranging that will bring Prokofiev’s string-heavy work to the realm of marching brass and percussion.

“We talk about orchestral music that we love, and wonder why it hasn’t been done,” Lyons said. “We're fortunate enough to have an arranger who is incredibly creative.”

READ: Colt Cadets enter "The Woods" in their 2024 production

Colt Cadets’ production, according to Lyons, breaks down into four movements. The show opens with what he described as “an adventure through the woods,” before diving into its second section, which will prominently feature Sondheim’s “No One is Alone.” 

In the corps’ third movement, the scene shifts to “the cottage,” which Lyons said may feature the use of voiceover in order to enhance the corps’ storytelling. Finally, the corps will close with a chase sequence. 

Visually-speaking, “The Woods” will be fully immersive for performers and audience members alike.

“It's a very visually-driven show,” Lyons said. “We’ve got woods on one side of the field, some props to reflect that. And every color guard flag silk is very deliberately designed to give a different feel.”

2023 Colt Cadets
Colt Cadets warm up for the corps' August 2023 performance in Mattoon, Illinois.


In terms of the visual side of the design coin, Lyons added that the Colt Cadets’ visual programming has taken a step up for 2024. 

“I think we're stepping out of our visual comfort zone a little bit, trying to introduce some things that we haven't really done a ton of in the past,” corps director Harlan Pfohl said. “It's not going to be anything groundbreaking to DCI or anything, but it's a step out from our organization’s comfort zone.”

As Pfohl noted, participant numbers have been encouraging at Colt Cadets’ offseason open house events. As the summer nears, the corps will transition from its single-day, localized events to a string of overnight rehearsals. 

“Our turnout for events has gone up from last year a bit, which is awesome,” he said.

Colt Cadets’ 2024 DCI Tour will consist of 13 performances, before appearances at the DCI Open Class World Championship Prelims, August 5-6 in Marion, Indiana, and the DCI World Championships, August 8-10 in Indianapolis. 

View Colt Cadets' 2024 DCI Tour Schedule