Pulling Some Strings with Geppetto and Holly Springs HS

Pulling Some Strings with Geppetto and Holly Springs HS

By Emily Ward

In their debut season at the 2023 WGI World Championships in Scholastic A Class, Holly Springs High School told the well-known story of Pinocchio from the perspective of the character Geppetto.

The idea came to the team’s designer, Shannon Proctor, at the end of the 2022 winter guard season. She had recently watched the 2020 trailer for the film, ended up loving the soundtrack, and knew it would be the perfect fit for a team that was full of strong storytellers. The staff also wanted to convey Pinocchio’s struggle and desire to be like everyone else, a difficulty that many people face in real life.

“The team was overjoyed with the concept,” said program director, Luke Oglesby. “They love the theatrics that winter guard brings to an audience, and they love Disney, so it was not hard to get them excited.”

To get into character, team members took it upon themselves to watch every version of Pinocchio ever made. They even brought toys with them to rehearsal to assure that every aspect of their winter guard experience went along with the theme of their 2023 performance.

To bring the show to life, the staff selected the song “Heavy Water” by Sean Redmond from the 2020 film’s trailer to begin and end the show. The team then added the song “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel to fill the middle of their show. They then went to a voiceover company, Voice 123, to further develop the story throughout their music selection.

“The voice actor was incredible and provided an awesome storytelling feel for the soundtrack,” said Oglesby. “All of this, with a few shooting star sound effects, created our soundtrack for the winter season.”

As for costumes, the staff selected items that resembled woodworkers and carpenters, similar to how Geppetto is shown in the films. They also wanted a childlike effect with the uniforms, hair and makeup to show the youth of Pinocchio’s character. To make the performers stand out against the wood grain floor selected for their 2023 show, the staff decided to make the uniforms a shade of bright blue.

To create the finishing touches of the storyline, the team spun their ending flag feature with bright blue flags that had shooting stars on them. The image represented “the shooting star that Geppetto wished upon and what turned Pinocchio into a real person,” said Oglesby.

Everyone, even family members of the program’s athletes were all in for the show.

“We had a moving workbench that was made by our awesome prop dads,” said Oglesby. “They did a stellar job getting the workbench to blend well with the floor.”

Their floor even had four elastic bands on it, to symbolize the strings attached to Pinocchio.

The entire season was a dream for Holly Springs High School. They had placed top three at the WGI Regionals competition that they attended and were seeing great successes in their local competitions as well. With a large part of the team consisting of graduating seniors, the staff wanted to assure that their final season was an extremely memorable one. The first goal: raise enough money to attend the program’s first ever WGI World Championships.

“With the amazing help of our parents and boosters, we were able to raise enough money to attend championships,” said Oglesby. “The practice where we announced that we raised enough money was such a good memory.”

Oglesby and the staff at Holly Springs High School were so impressed by the confidence and calmness that their team showcased in such a high stress environment at the WGI World Championships.

“For the staff, we were nervous about the pressure that performing at world championships can have on a team, especially their first time there,” said Oglesby. “The members…loved every second of performing at Dayton, that was very obvious, but they also loved being able to finally watch these world class groups in person that they have only been able to see online.”

“Needless to say, we are very proud of what we accomplished and feel super fortunate to have had this experience,” said Oglesby.

The team is excited to return to the WGI World Championships this upcoming year and give the crowd another year of beautiful and memorable performances.

About the Author:

Emily Ward is a junior at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, and is studying to receive her bachelor’s degree in mass communications with a concentration in broadcast news. She is also a psychology minor. She began colorguard her junior year of high school, and was a captain of Sunlake High School’s Open Class team and has since spun for the University of South Florida.