Still hours away from showtime, Carolina Crown finished its pre-show rehearsal on a muggy Memphis afternoon. It was the fourth straight day the Fort Mill, South Carolina corps had rehearsed.
None of its members seemed to mind. There were still plenty of changes to make — still are.
Carolina Crown’s 2019 production, “Beneath the Surface” is ever-changing. You’d watch it on a Friday and by the following Monday, a dozen of moments had been tweaked, music changed and choreography revised.
“It’s very different in a lot of ways in changes with details and making it exactly fit the design team in the end,” second-year drum major Michael St. Ores said. “But the product we’re putting out now is significantly different than the first show in Detroit.”
Crown doesn’t have its show where it wants it. Most corps don’t. But they don’t plan on having a finished product by San Antonio, or Atlanta. Their show is like a random lock, after a while and with a number of different tries at the combination, it’ll open up. It’ll click.
The corps is confident that’ll happen by the time the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis roll around.
“When I say, ‘Playing a long game with the show,’ it means the show is constantly evolving,” St. Ores said. “There’s always things being added, things being tweaked and cleaning being done throughout the show. We know that it’s not going to be perfect tomorrow or the next day or the next day.”
“Beneath the Surface” is an intellectual, energetic production that explores the mysterious design of the universe and all things inside it. So far, St. Ores said, Carolina Crown’s membership has latched on to the concept.
“As the show has been evolving, the membership has been going with it,” he said. “We’re starting to make some really good progress with getting the detail work into the show and really getting to the point the membership wants it while matching the vision of the design team.”
Fifth-year baritone player Riley Kirwan wholeheartedly agrees. A grin comes across his face every time he brings up the show — more noticeable when he describes the audience.
Crown and its audiences have a back-and-forth of sorts throughout the show, building a relationship together as it progresses.
“I hope that’s something we can carry on and grow,” he said. “Just as much as we’re having fun down here, the audience is having fun too. Hopefully we’re carrying each other to the end.”
The show’s ending is a lively twist on the Bulgarian folk song “Bucimis.” The critique from Crown’s staff so far? The corps may not be having enough fun.
“We’re really trying to make it a party; that's the word the staff uses everyday,” said Sarah Duncan, a second-year trumpet player. “‘Just have a party on the field and show the audience how much fun you’re having so they can enjoy watching it.”
At its last show in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Carolina Crown tallied 86.850 points, nearly a 16-point jump from the DCI Tour Premiere in Detroit. That result has Crown in a position to, at the very least, match its 2018 fourth-place finish.
Regardless of scores, though, the members of Carolina Crown see the progress still to be made with its production. St. Ores noted he’s satisfied with the corps’ status at this point in the season, confident they’ll perfect the show before season’s end.
“Very pleased,” St. ores said. “I think most of the membership is as well but we also know the show, and our performance of it, has a long way to go.”