From the brutal heat of summer band camps to early morning practices once the school year begins, high school marching bands have been diligently preparing for the competition season that starts this weekend for many schools.

From a P.T. Barnum/Elton John showdown at Blue Ridge to a mixed bag for Monticello that ranges from classical pieces to “Zombie” by the Cranberries, this year’s shows are definitely have variety.

What is being planned for Friday night football halftimes and Saturday band competitions? Here is a rundown.

Arthur

Staff: Director Ryan Wood, Color Guard Director Haley Caulfield

Theme: “Espionage”

The theme explained: “The music is fun and challenging! The students also had a great interest in this show and I like to get their opinion,” said Wood.

Songs: “Mission Impossible Theme,” “Pink Panther Theme,” and “Skyfall” from the James Bond movie.

Competitions: Sept. 21 – Mt. Zion Marching Music Games; Sept. 28 – Newton Marching Eagles Band Classic; Oct. 19 – Effingham Marching Hearts Invitational; Oct. 26 – University of Illinois State Marching Band Championships.

Director Ryan Wood, what can people expect from your show? “Expect to see a group of hard working students that love to perform and give the audience what they want. Expect excitement and good music!”

Bement

Staff: Director Sarah Fairbanks

Theme: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Songs: “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Spirit in the Sky,” “Escape.”

Competitions: Sept. 14 – Monticello Sage City; Sept. 21 – Mt. Zion Marching Music Games; Sept. 28 – Newton Marching Eagles Band Classic; Oct. 19 – Effingham Marching Hearts Invitational; Oct. 26 – Oblong Marching Band Parade and Field Competition.

Blue Ridge

Staff: Director Chris Mitchell, Auxiliary Director Jacalyn Meisner

Theme: “The Greatest Showman”

The theme explained: The recent Hollywood release reintroduced the world to the genius that is P.T. Barnum. But, is he really “The Greatest Showman,” or is he an incredible business, ad, and hype man? If he is not the greatest, then who is? Well, the Blue Ridge Marching Knights will make the case that it is non other than the incredible, the incomparable, the legend, the icon, the ‘rocketman’ himself...Sir Elton John! Through our show we will explore the music from the Hollywood Blockbuster, and the music of Elton John,” said Mitchell. “We will juxtapose four songs from the show, and four classic Elton tunes. Then you can be the judge.”

Songs: “The Greatest Show,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Never Enough,” “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road,” “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” “This Is Me.” “I’m Still Standing,” “From Now On.”

Competitions: Sept. 21 – Mt. Zion Marching Music Games; Oct. 5: EIU Panther Marching Festival; Oct. 12 – Metamora High School Marching Festival; Oct. 19 – Effingham High School Marching Festival; Oct. 26 – University of Illinois State Marching Band Championships

Director Chris Mitchell, what can people expect from your show? “We hope that you will feel the energy and excitement and the wow factor that can be felt at both a Circus and an Elton John Concert. Both have many moments that have you on the edge of your seat, and holding your breathe in anticipation, and we hope to bring you that in about nine minutes on a field. And while we may not have elephants or rocket men, we do have a couple of surprises up our sleeves for the show so don’t take your eyes off the field!”

Monticello

Staff: Directors Alison Allender and Amanda J. Allen; Color Guard Junsara King; Percussion Jody Stone and Lindsey Alexander; Choreographer Marc Moss

Theme: “The Only Way Out … Is Through”

The theme explained: The idea behind it is about an individual’s struggle to overcome and persevere through things that are scary or difficult for them,” said Allender. “The idea started with one idea that Amanda J. Allen had, and after brainstorming with our staff the idea evolved form there!”

Songs: “Lost Boy” by Ruth B., “Medea’s Dance of Vengeance” by Samuel Barber, “Zombie” by the Cranberries, “Pavane” by Gabriel Faure, and “Titanium” by David Guetta.

Competitions: Sept. 14: Sage City in Monticello (exhibition only); Sept. 21 – Mt. Zion Marching Music Games; Oct. 5 – EIU Panther Marching Festival; Oct. 12 – Normal Marching Band Invitational; Oct. 18 – Bands of America Super Regional, St. Louis.

Director Alison Allender, what can people expect from your show? “We hope that people are inspired to push through the difficult things in their life and come out on top! We will have lots of fast paced marching/guard routine, exciting choreography and excellent music!”

Cerro Gordo

Cerro Gordo High School does not march in competition, but the band will play at halftime of home football games on Sept. 13, Sept. 20 and Oct. 25. They are performing selections based around the holiday theme of the school’s homecoming.

The holidays were determined by each grade. We will be playing music from Halloween, Fourth of July, New Years, and Cinco de Mayo,” said Director Will Pritchard.