If you were a fan of drum corps when the Cadets announced they were doing a Christmas show, though, I’m betting you were skeptical about whether 12.25 would be too cheesy and/or whether the show would be a worthy follow-up to their 2011 championship show, Between Angels And Demons. I know I was one of those. After all, Christmas music in the summer? The only time I’ve cared about Christmas in July was when Great Lakes Brewing tapped their Christmas Ale each summer. Would 12.25 be just as gimmicky as the annual retail sales we get bombarded with when we’re trying to enjoy the weather and our vacation?
It turns out that the 2012 Cadets show has become a yearly Christmas tradition for a lot of us, mainly because the corps approached the theme with the same level of reverence that they did with their 2011 show. Opening with Carol Of The Bells, the corps goes full Cadet mode with a fast paced Jeff Sacktig drill which would make Santa’s reindeer tired. The look of the corps returned to a single traditional West Point uniform, though not in the traditional Cadets color scheme. This year, the uniform was cream from top to bottom with maroon cummerbunds and trim. The guard costumes were shiny and colorful, as if they were gift wrapped presents for us.
The second movement, variations on Jingle Bells, started out very playful with a small brass ensemble and even a blatty tuba note. The corps formed a Christmas tree on the field, complete with a star on top, before moving into a gospel style park and blow of the melody to finish out the movement.
As the corps turned backfield playing the final riff from the second movement, a mellophone soloist turned front and played a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Do You Hear What I Hear. The guard moved into the side 1 (left side) end zone, making use of large props which looked like presents. The presents opened to become snow slides and Christmas vignettes which the guard played on and danced around. The horns turned to face the guard and played the climax of the song to them.
The closer began with a trumpet duet playing O Christmas Tree, leading into the rest of the corps playing Hark The Herald Angels Sing backfield while snippets of dialogue from various Christmas movies and TV specials played over them. The corps built into a company front, hitting the fans with a full out Hallelujah from the song as the angel from last year’s show appeared, leading them forward. The corps formed 12.25 on the field to finish the moment, then kicked into a classic Cadets high speed ending, combining quotes of melodies from various Christmas songs before reforming the company front and finishing the show.