The desire for human connection is the driving force for The Academy’s 2024 production, “When Opportunity Knocks.” 

“When we first started designing the show, we were kind of focused on the idea of the human soul’s innate need to be seen, heard and felt,” program coordinator John Max McFarland said.

Inspired by a quote from poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, the Tempe, Arizona-based corps looks to “answer the door” when an opportunity calls. 

“When opportunity knocks, make sure your door is not locked,” the quote reads. “When opportunity knocks, answer the door.” 

"So when opportunity knocks, don't hesitate, throw wide the door, embrace your fate. For in that moment, as the hinges...

Posted by The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps on Monday, April 29, 2024


The show also intends to explore emotions like fear and isolation, two experiences which McFarland believes block opportunities from being seen and recognized. 

“Often times, in our effort to be seen, heard and felt, we’re often blind, deaf and unfeeling to the opportunities presented to us,” McFarland said.

Musically and visually, the production will follow a “journey,” which splits into six scenes, each representing an aspect of recognizing and seizing an opportunity. 

McFarland also noted an emphasis on the color red, which harkens back to many of The Academy's early productions and uniforms.

"You're going to see a lot of reds, you're going to see a lot of blacks and grays and things like that," he said. "It's kind of getting back to our roots a little bit in terms of that core color of red."

2007 Academy
Since its founding 2001, many of The Academy's first productions prominently featured the color red.


In terms of specifics, the corps’ performers will embody these ideas through each section’s specific role in the show. The color guard will represent the “opportunity,” while the brass and percussion sections represent those who seek said opportunity.

Setting the stage, the corps will utilize 16 doors, serving as a literal representation of a barrier blocking a perceived opportunity. 

Voiceover narration will help drive the storyline. Following the introduction, the words, “Can you hear me?” will ring out. This marks the first time that “opportunity” will call out to the corps. Other phrases, like, “Can you see me?” and “Can you feel me?” will also be sprinkled throughout the show, pointing to the three emotions the corps plans to portray in the show. 

Ultimately, the show will culminate to its sixth and final movement, which designers described as musically and visually triumphant.

“Scene six is called ‘Now I'm Here,' and it's a breakthrough,” MacFarland said. “We finally break through the doors, we've seized our opportunity, and we want to represent the epicness of seizing an opportunity.”

Arranged by music designer Fred Emory Smith who is an Academy alum, the corps’ production will rely on two pieces of music — “Can You Hear the Music” by Ludwig Gorranson, from the 2024 Academy Award-winning film "Oppenheimer," and “Golden Hour” by JVKE as its focal point.

Other selections include “Someone Just Like You” from the Broadway musical, “Jekyll and Hyde,” and “Sailing Into Dawn” by Bear McCreary from the soundtrack to the Amazon Studios television series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." 

One of the things the corps’ staff is excited to share with drum corps fans is the epic nature of this year’s soundscape, which first-year corps director Josh Thye credits to Smith’s active role as a film composer. 

“It’s got a real cinematic and soundtrack feel to it,” Thye said. “I think you’ll notice that as you listen to it, that intentionality is woven throughout the design.” 

Presenting the musical selections for our 2024 show “When Opportunity Knocks” 🚪 Let us know in the comments which piece...

Posted by The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps on Friday, May 24, 2024


Finally, seizing an opportunity is an experience many drum corps fans can personally relate to. The same can be said for this year’s membership and staff, as the theme for “When Opportunity Knocks” has breathed new life into the corps this offseason. 

When the show was revealed to the membership, as well as supporters, at a late-April fundraising gala, the focus shifted to what opportunities the corps could seize in 2024. The show became not only a concept in the minds of the design staff, but a life lesson for everyone involved. 

The palpable excitement within the gala was something that Thye, an alum of the corps, hoped to one day share with the current membership.

“There’s a synergy between the members, the staff, everyone,” Thye said. “The opportunity is knocking for the corps and we’re ready to kick that door open.” 

The Academy will kick off its 2024 DCI Tour July 1, at its “Drums Across the Desert” home show in Mesa, Arizona. 

View The Academy's 2024 DCI Tour Schedule