Pacific Crest creative director Stephen Estudillo and the corps’ design team had emphasized a couple of key characteristics when preparing to develop a program concept for 2018.
First off, the idea needed to be relatable for members, staff and fans. Moreover, it had to connect with the corps’ identity and its history.
Simply put, the aim was that all the pieces would fit together perfectly for Pacific Crest in order to properly celebrate its 25th anniversary season. “Here’s to the Ones Who Dream” does exactly that.
It all just makes sense; on the surface, the corps’ 2018 program pays tribute to its home city, Los Angeles — more specifically, Hollywood. But upon digging deeper, it’s clear there’s much more that makes the show significant to the southern California corps.
Ultimately, the show’s title isn’t just a reference to lyrics from the hit 2016 film “La La Land.” It’s a toast to those who decided to take a leap and found Pacific Crest in 1993.
“It all started with a group of people who dreamt to start a drum corps,” Estudillo said. “And so this is kind of a way to remember that, but also fast forward to today and look forward to tomorrow, figuratively speaking, about what we’re trying to accomplish here with Pacific Crest.”
Visually speaking, it’s not hard to tell what’s going on during Pacific Crest’s program. Numerous visual cues allude to the golden age of Hollywood including street lights, “Walk of Fame” stars, tap dancers and more.
In terms of the music, well-known selections from “La La Land,” aren’t only recognizable to the audience, but, according to Estudillo, allow the corps members to “step out of their shells” when performing.
“This year, using some ‘La La Land’ music, the fact that it’s based out of Hollywood, out of southern California, allows the members to be a little bit more of themselves in the performance,” he said. “It allows them to kind of let their hair down and have fun with it, and also allows them to be a participant of the performance, that is, beyond just, ‘Kneel here, play this, do that.’ It allows them to express themselves through the performance.”
Fittingly, Pacific Crest was able to open up its special anniversary season with “home shows” in Oceanside and Pasadena, the latter of which is staged at one of the most iconic venues in the corps’ home state and the country.
“It’s the Rose Bowl,” Pacific Crest drum major Andrew Fresquez said. “We’re really pumped, really excited just to be able to perform there, to call it our home.”
Fresquez, who is in his second year on the podium and fifth with Pacific Crest, can attest that his corps, despite being younger than he’s used to, is in a better place at this point than years past.
“The average age is a little younger than past years, but the mentality and the strive to be better is more present than it’s ever been,” he said. “Everyone here is really trying and giving it their all, and they’re pushing for it, and we’re wanting to make strides this year.”
Early on, those improvements are certainly showing up on the scoresheets. Pacific Crest’s most recent score, recorded in Riverside on July 1, is nearly two points higher than the corps scored on the same date in 2017.
According to Estudillo, the biggest difference year over year from a rehearsal standpoint has been a concerted effort on instruction that accurately correlates to what’s expected of members when they perform.
“The staff has been working really hard to provide the right training, the right fundamental training, for what we’re asking them to do,” he said. “And a lot of our training has been geared toward this show in specific, not just a broad platform to train on.”
And at the end of the day, between a meaningful, multi-faceted show design and a refined approach to rehearsal, Estudillo is optimistic about what Pacific Crest has going on entering the heart of the ensemble’s 2018 summer tour.
“The corps is in a really good spot right now, better than normal,” he said. “We have a lot of positive feedback from different individuals, alumni, judges fans, the members as well. Things are moving in a really good direction, we feel really comfortable and confident with our product this year.”