MOULTRIE, Ga. – The Colquitt County 50th Regiment Band will take audiences back to the Spanish California of the late 1700s and early 1800s when it presents “Mask of Zorro” this year.
The music comes from the film of the same name, directed by Martin Campbell and released in 1998.
Some parts of the show will be on display when the band performs at halftime of the Colquitt County football team’s season-opener against North Gwinnett on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The band’s first performance on Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium will be on Friday, Sept. 6, when the football Packers play host to Thomasville in their home-opener.
The 50th Regiment recently finished its two-week band camp and two days of rehearsals with 150 members, up about 15 over the number that performed last year.
The band is still “quite young,” says band director Liz Savage, as this year’s edition features 40-45 new members and just 24 seniors.
But she said she feels confident enough in the group to take on the challenging “Mask of Zorro” show.
“We wrote this year’s show based on the success we had last year,” she said. “We felt like we could kick it up a notch this year.
“We really are in a good place now, a different place than we have been. We do things here that other schools around here can’t do because the community gets involved.”
The community and booster support has been evident recently on contributions that ensure band members were hydrated and nourished during the recent camp and on the donations that are enabling the 50th Regiment to travel to Philadelphia to perform in the Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade and make a three-day sightseeing side trip to New York City.
Although the band was fortunate that its July camp “was the coolest I’ve ever been a part of in 15 years in south Georgia,” Savage was especially gratified for the water, fruit, popsicles and other donations that helped the band get through the 12-hour days.
The band was able to take advantage of the indoor practice facility at the high school and held many of its sessions there.
And she and her staff were aided this year by a number of former 50th Regiment members who turned out to assist at the camp.
“We had an astounding number of alumni who came back to help,” she said. “It was pretty awesome.”
Each year, a staff of collegiate musicians is hired to help out at camp and this year’s group included seven who had performed for the 50th Regiment.
Savage said this year’s show will feature the color guard in period costumes, including five male members dressed as matadors.
Another will be introduced as Zorro, the fictional swashbuckler created by author Johnston McCulley in 1919.
There have been 11 movies dating back to 1920 and a 78-episode Disney television series beginning in 1957 that featured the nobleman Don Diego de la Vega and his alter ego, the masked and sword-wielding vigilante Zorro.
The 1998 film, starring Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, includes music that intrigued Savage and her staff.
Back to work on that staff are Jake Thompson, C.A. Gray Junior High band director; Aaron Savage, Liz’s husband, percussion director; and Athena Ellenburg, color guard director.
New to the staff is middle school director Emily Plumlee, who comes from south Illinois.
“She has been a great addition to the program,” Liz Savage said. “The community has been so welcoming to her.”
With school having started this week, Savage is ready to get her young musicians into a new rhythm.
“I feel like we are off to a great start,” Savage said. “I think we have a group that has a real good grasp of what we want to do.”