At my school in New York City around the months of February and March, life revolves around SING!: a student-run, school-wide musical that is a competition between grades. Freshmen and sophomores join forces to compete together (Soph-Frosh) against the Juniors and Seniors. Starting in the beginning of February, auditions and tryouts start and SING! fever takes over a large part of the student body. (By the way, the capital letters and exclamation point are extremely necessary.)
Here’s the gist of the musical: each of the three groups gets exactly 60 minutes on performance nights to show off the best talents their grade has to offer. Each musical is generally a combination of a cast, chorus, band, and huge slew of dance groups interweaved together by a plot written by the scriptwriters. Each group also has a different theme! This year, my school’s SophFrosh chose apocalypse, Juniors chose winter politics, and Seniors chose horror.
There are so many opportunities for students with different interests and talents to get involved with their grade’s production of SING! In addition to the performers like actors, singers, guitarists, tap dancers, and bellydancers, lots of work needs to be done behind the scenes. Producers work together with everyone involved to make sure rehearsals and shows run smoothly. They coordinate all the practices and supervise each crew to keep everyone on track, as well as work with teacher supervisors. If you’ve got a burning question, the producers are the ones to ask. Scriptwriters come up with the plot and have to seamlessly incorporate performance crews into the script. Songwriters take popular songs and rewrite the lyrics to fit the theme and plot. Hundreds of other students are involved in makeup (helping performers look the part), costumes (helping performers dress the part), art (decorating sets), tech (building sets), stage crew (working with all things on/behind the stage), and lights and sound (making sure the audience can hear and see the performers).
Within the Crews
Each crew typically has tryouts, auditions, and/or signup forms after directors have been picked by the producers. Then those who made the cut are posted on Facebook or are added to private groups to discuss all things related to SING! Each grade is designated their own floor of the school per day and practice is held almost every single day until the last show. My school even held practice during our Midwinter Recess. Coming in for 5 out of 7 days of break when the temperature drops below 30 degrees was no walk in the park, but you have to work hard if you want to put on the best show! During the last two weeks before show, practice was held until 7PM and then 8PM. 12 hour school days were stressful at times as everyone realized we weren’t ready or had to change routines last minute, but friends and the joy of doing what we love together kept it fun and enjoyable.
SING! Week is the week of the show. Shows are held on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in mid-March. My school had it also be SING! Spirit Week where we rocked our apparel from previous years, school apparel, pajamas on the day after our first show, etc. On Friday, students put their war paint on with their respective grade colors to get pumped up. And on Saturday night, everyone gave it their all, shouted their spirit songs, and chanted the loudest they could for their peers. Judges score each category for Friday and Saturday shows from 1-10 and point deductions from throughout the weeks of rehearsal are taken into account for things like eating in the theater, leaving the costume room a mess, etc. The grade with the highest number of points is declared the winner!
Even with stress, injuries, blood, sweat, and tears, SING! was definitely one of my favorite experiences of my high school career. As a senior, this year was my first and last time participating in SING! but I couldn’t be gladder that I took this final opportunity. I had the wonderful chance of performing with the Senior belly dancing crew and chorus and had so much fun. My only regret is not joining SING! During my freshman year of high school. If your school has this awesome tradition, I encourage you to join it. There is definitely a place for you in one of several crews! If your school doesn’t have SING!, then maybe you can start it. Here are some videos from past years to give you some inspiration.