A Look Behind the Curtains: The Crews Behind SING!

A look into the dedication and work of SING! crews behind the scenes.

Reading Time: 21 minutes


By Dayeon Won

As the theater is engulfed in the electric energy of cowboys and lassos, the striking background adorns the stage with aesthetic visuals. This year, Soph-Frosh SING! art crew brought the Wild West theme to life by designing the backgrounds and painting the sets. 

Behind those flawless backgrounds lie the daunting challenges the art crew had to overcome. “Pretty much everything was a challenge in the beginning. We even struggled with transporting the backdrop to our workspace and it took at least six people to lift those,” sophomore Art Director Elizabeth Chao explained. “Another challenge in the beginning was communicating effectively with our members,” Chao added.

Chao emphasized the importance of coordination in overcoming those challenges. “After some time, we became more efficient as people started to get to know each other better,” Chao remarked. Not only did the art crew members work together within the crew, but all crews worked together to create the masterpiece performance. “It was so much fun collaborating with different crews and seeing everything come together in the end,” Chao recalled.

Overall, Chao was very satisfied with her experience at the SING! performance. “I think SING! is an amazing part of the Stuyvesant culture and all students should participate at least once during their time here. I really enjoyed working collaboratively with our members in order to accomplish so much in one and a half months,” Chao stated. Despite the ranking Soph-Frosh SING! placed in, Chao stands by the hard work the crew put in. Chao added, “ I somewhat disagree with the scores we received for sets, but that doesn’t make me at all less proud of what the art crew accomplished.”


By Yuhn Yan

Though SING! is best known for its dazzling cast and crew, an equally integral part of each production is its band. For Senior SING! this year, Music Producer Gaven Nowak and band directors Pulindu Weerasekara, Sidd Somadder, and David Jiang created an innovative experience honed by years of SING! experience. “Because we’re seniors, we have four years of experience with each other, so we know how to play to each other’s strengths,” Jiang said. 

Such experience gave Jiang confidence in their chances of victory, which only grew as he watched each night’s performance. “[With] band in particular, I felt like we were spot on—we made a few mistakes,” he described. 

This sentiment was shared across the band. “As I watched, I grew more and more confident that we were definitely going to be the ones who won,” Weerasekara affirmed.

Of course, their success took hard work, especially since the band decided to alter some of its typical procedures. Most notably, the band directors developed a new process of categorizing songs by crew. “We were testing a new method this year [...] some of the songs applied to dance because the dance crews will be dancing to them. Some applied to cast because cast members will be singing. And some apply to both because both of them [will be] dancing and singing,” Weerasekara explained. 

Hour-long sessions were dedicated to creating the list of songs that would be performed—a change from previous years, when directors were less assertive and communicative. “Flow [was a struggle] when it came to song collection [because] playing very heavily mixed and produced songs with a live band. [...] It’s just not plausible,” Somadder added. 

Following the lengthy process of determining a setlist, the band also spent a lot of time rehearsing and revising their performance. For example, Somadder and Jiang described having to rework their rendition of “Hit the Road Jack” for Latin multiple times, eventually making the percussion more steady. 

Fortunately, years of collaboration led Senior SING! to victory, even with a smaller band. “We had the smallest band, but we used the talent to the very most that we could. We took everything that we had, and we utilized that to 100 percent,” Nowak said. Ultimately, the senior band was able to deliver a strong, memorable performance.


By Ayesha Talukder

In a sea of popular art forms, Bolly brought a unique cultural touch to this year’s Junior SING! Directed by Aditya Anand, Krishi Shah, Pari Patni, and Krishna-Priya Deb, the lively performance was the product of true passion and dedication, elevating the Junior SING! experience. 

This year, the crew danced to “Sadi Gali,” an upbeat and energetic song. “Bolly is generally associated with very upbeat and energetic “party” vibes, so we chose to go [with a song that fits in] that [genre],” Anand described.

Before settling on the perfect song, however, the directors had to listen to a variety of instrumental versions. “Sometimes the instrumental recordings sound different from the actual Bollywood music, so we needed to find a song where the instrumentals fit the theme, and ‘Sadi Gali’ was one of those songs,” Patni explained.

Overall, the directors are proud of their performance and cherish their time in Bolly, which they have had a long history with: Patni has been involved in the activity for multiple years, connecting her with her culture. “When I was younger I used to do ballet, and when I got into middle school I started doing more cultural dances, and they just brought me a lot of joy because [participating in the activity] gave me a way to connect to my culture and different parts of my identity,” Patni explained. 

Deb also shared the importance of her childhood dance experiences: “I’ve been dancing outside of school for almost 13 years,” she said. “It’s just amazing how I’m able to share my culture with other people, and when they see our dances they’re so amazed, and it’s so empowering.” 

Meanwhile, Anand first became involved with Bolly after joining StuySquad during his freshman year, a decision that has had a lasting impact. “Joining Bolly has given me a way to connect with people and really foster friendships,” he said. 

While Bolly has immense cultural importance to South Asians, the directors emphasized that they don’t want this to hinder people from joining Bolly, as it is never an exclusive space. “We would love for more people to join and try out Bolly, even if they’re not South Asian, because we don’t want anyone to feel limited,” Patni explained.

After all, in addition to appreciating the success of their SING! season, the directors especially cherished how close they felt with their fellow dancers. “Everyone knows each other and is friendly, and overall, it makes the environment around us special. Everyone has a close-knit friendship, and this definitely made the season much more fun,” Patni said. Clearly, Bolly is much more than just a dance crew, serving as a community for all. 


By Ayaan Zahir

As the curtain draws back, a myriad of characters flood the stage, each with a story to tell and an audience to enchant. With the intricacies of performing lines while portraying the persona of another, the cast truly serves as the foundation for SING! productions, no matter the team or theme.

For the cast of Senior SING!, creativity drove the production. Particularly, senior cast directors August Petry and Unique Zhang found much creative freedom. “The real role of a cast director is that you’re given a script, and you have to take whatever characters and script you’re given and bring it to life,” Petry explained. “It’s the idea of having to take this work, [and asking yourself], how do you take this play and turn it into a real-life story?”

Petry shared their enthusiasm for the show and highlighted the importance of commitment in bringing the show to completion: “When I go into a show, I am expecting to be putting aside hours for rehearsals, and hours outside of rehearsals. It doesn’t feel like a burden to me because it’s just something that I love.”

Junior Cast Director Sasha Ruinsky also found that her crewmates’ enthusiasm greatly enhanced her experience as a director. “Cast knew what we were doing was important, and they were just as passionate about the process [of producing] as I was. They always wanted to do more, be more, and push themselves harder, and I appreciated that,” Ruinsky added. Ruinsky especially appreciated her team’s initiative to implement their own creative vision into the show. “The script in SING! is completely malleable, and we worked a lot on the script with the cast, which was really important to develop their characters. We created three-dimensional characters and added characteristics that weren’t in the original script,” Ruinsky stated.

At the top of the cast’s agenda is getting meaningful reactions in the audience, and emotion preludes this goal. Zhang highlighted how the senior spirit song was the perfect fit: “The [song was the] perfect encapsulation of our struggles throughout the [last] four years and our past failures, how we learned from it, how we endured through so much, and how we made it to now,” Zhang stated. “Simply being on stage where you have everyone jumping together in unison, shouting the lyrics from the top of their lungs, that was a wholesome bonding moment that I will always remember.”

In the midst of the great scenes of SING!, the true inspiration lies in the community it fosters among its members. Fellowship in SING! is just as valuable as an award, and when reflecting on their own co-directors’ contributions, Petry admired the sheer will Zhang possessed during the production. “[Zhang] has such great creative vision and the ability to see a show and create magic, and the dedication to say ‘OK, we have a problem. I’m going to go on stage today [and fix it],’” Petry commented. When the seniors’ victory was declared, Petry recalled the core anecdote of their SING! experience. “My real moment was being in a diner after the show on Saturday, and getting the e-mail that we won. Everyone began to scream in the middle of this diner, and everyone was so excited. The person next to us, who had no idea who we were, said ‘Go you! This sounds really exciting and important to you [all],’” Petry recollected.


By Caleb Lee

The modern crew blew the audience away with their graceful and provocative performances this year. Freshman and Modern Assistant Director Penelope Merchant described the dance style: “It’s the fusion of contemporary ballet and classical modern styles that portray visual expressions through the collaboration of a crew.” For the crew, the memories, teamwork, challenges, and experiences all together were what made SING! exciting.

Since soph-frosh is a combination of both sophomores and freshmen, sophomore Modern Director Eisei Kori and the other soph-frosh directors had double the fun. “My favorite part of directing was getting to meet all these new people, especially because it was not just within sophomores, but also extended towards freshmen as well. So, it helped me expand the sense of the Stuyvesant community,” explained Kori. 

For Merchant, it was the show itself that brought out the energy of the crew. “My favorite part of the whole experience was probably the actual show because that was when we all really bonded and became a real team altogether,” she said. The same could be said for Junior SING!’s Modern Associate Director Sophie Wang. “[It was] definitely stressful, but once you get on stage and you get off, [it’s] like, oh my god, that was so fun, and I loved it so much,” Wang emphasized.

For seniors in particular, joining modern was an opportunity to learn a new hobby before they graduate. “Junior year, people are so focused on SAT season, but senior year, second term senior year, people might as well just go for it,” senior Modern Director Melody Huang explained. As a director, she had to work with many seniors who decided to just go for it. “A lot of our people this year were beginners—they had never done any dancing before—so taking them into all of these techniques and teaching them from the very beginning to the very end [...] was really rewarding,” she added. 

Since the theme for Senior SING! was pirates, and modern is typically a more graceful dance, Huang had to incorporate different styles to fit the theme. “We were more persistent on dancing [with] lots of strict marching, which also took a lot of practice, and we drilled that a lot. I think it turned out really well and really clean—I’m really proud of it,” she explained.

The soph-frosh modern crew focused their choreography around their songs. “We thought of the audition choreography during our lunch period,” Kori said. “It was like a group contribution between all these directors.” Soph-frosh’s theme this year was the Wild West. “Comparatively to Senior SING!, which had a more upbeat sound, our songs were more of ‘on the down low,’ so I guess you could say we tr[ied] choreographing a lot more floorwork,” Kori added. 

Despite the unique basis of their choreography, Merchant believed they were able to pull through and make it work. “Eisei, Amy, and I used all of our modern experiences to create the choreography, and we based the choreography around the song and not the theme as much, but it still fit the theme just as well,” Merchant explained.

Synchronization was a huge challenge for the junior modern crew. “It’s something you can’t really learn or practice yourself; you have to be with the whole group and you really have to listen to the music,” Wang explained. Through pure practice and sheer effort, they were able to achieve significant progress. “[I was proud of] my crew’s progress from the beginning of SING! to the end: that we were able to memorize, [attain] muscle memory for our whole dance, and [that] we were pretty synchronized,” Wang added.

Each cohort had different hurdles to jump over. The senior modern crew, full of second-term seniors, all had packed schedules. Despite their commitment to the six-week schedule of SING!, they still had trouble coordinating with each other. “One main difficulty was getting everyone together, [since] a lot of people at Stuy are really busy. A lot of people had other clubs [and] other commitments, but SING! really is just 6 weeks, and the beginning weeks are still spent on getting all the script down and everything. So, we only have a few weeks to practice, and we have to get everything done,” Huang explained.

Now that SING! has ended, the modern crews reflect back on their experiences: their memories, their teamwork, and their challenges. “We put everything into it, and it’s so worth it because it’s such a fun time and you get so many memories out of it. Laughing with your friends, working together, and having fun while doing it,” Huang said. Kori believed it was a well-deserved win for the seniors. “I saw a lot of effort being put in by all three grades. In the end, I think seniors really pulled through, emphasizing their theme. In the end, it was a very cohesive show, and I think they fully deserve this win,” he concluded. 


By Sophia He

As the entire school worked tirelessly to perfect three performances for the annual SING!, there was a particular group of students that caught spectators’ eyes: Latin. Whether you caught a fleeting glance at their frequent practice sessions or watched their entire performance on stage, it was difficult not to stare in awe. They turned in lovely spins and pulled off extravagant stunts, all while moving with grace.

This elegance did not come freely, however. While Latin is a no-cut dance crew, the dance style requires advanced technique and great enthusiasm for the art form. Fortunately, Latin was in no way lacking in enthusiasm, but its members’ levels of expertise were varied. “Essentially, we have to introduce the [Latin] world to everyone, including things like timing cues and technique,” soph-frosh Latin Director Mia Shi admitted.

To quickly get everyone onto the same page, Latin, like most dance crews, held many practices whenever possible in order to coordinate the dances. “I’d say practices are almost every day, especially leading up to the show. There are times when we have practices over our weekends and breaks, which typically run throughout the entire day,” senior Latin Director Patrick Xu admitted. For Latin members, this full schedule was necessary to refine their skills and work well in such a group-dependent dance. 

However, it posed a serious issue when crew members were unable to attend practice regularly. “Some people are in multiple crews, and others have extracurriculars that they need to attend, [so] they use up their free periods to work with each other [and] work with us,” junior Latin Director Charles Li mentioned. Despite the tight schedule, crew members were still given sufficient time to rest. “We try to give [crew members] a break, which typically means a day off. Usually, that doesn’t always work out, but we try to dismiss earlier than 7:30 [p.m.],” soph-frosh Latin Director Tahlia Jamir revealed.

All of the soph-frosh, junior, and senior directors agreed that the most important thing that came out of Latin was the unbreakable bond formed between its members. “I didn’t expect our community this year to be so good, because we started with a few juniors, but eventually, we met so many new people [who] were willing to try out the dance and do it with us, and everyone just became such a good family,” junior Malka Lubelski remarked. Plunging headfirst into such a commitment can be scary, but in this case, the students came together to put on their best performance. 

That being said, the development of these companionships came with a noticeable improvement in the skills of every individual, as well as the overall group. “I think just seeing the [members’] progression, not only in learning new moves, but also refining [their] skills, is so rewarding. And even though [Latin is] separated during SING!, we always come back together during StuySquad and S.O.S. I feel like that’s why the community is such a nice thing—because you get to see everyone learn and grow together,” junior Latin Assistant Director Sophia Tom revealed.

Xu shared a similar sentiment; in fact, he even placed the Latin community’s bond above Senior SING!’s victory. “I’m so happy that we got [the win], obviously, but going into the performances, we went in with this mentality that was like, ‘Whatever happens, happens. Whatever the results are, we can’t worry about it too much.’ And I think we all enjoyed the experience, no matter what the results would have been.”

In the end, thanks to the Latin members’ commitment and the directors’ hard work, they soared through the air during their impressive stunts and pulled off stunning choreography full of intricate steps.

Lights & Sound

By Mark Ionis

As the curtain draws back, music plays from the pit below and actors take their place on the stage. Tech crew hastily scurry backstage. But there’s one more crew on duty, invisible to the audience. The lights and sound crew is situated in the booth above the audience, working tirelessly to ensure the show runs smoothly.

Senior Lights and Sound Director Dorothy Ha first joined the crew in her sophomore year because of how cool it seemed. “[I joined lights and sound] because I wanted to press buttons, and I was very enticed by lights and sound’s special access to the booth in the balcony. It really did live up to what I had expected, but I’ve definitely gained more out of it. The people I’ve met have been amazing, and it gave me the confidence to get more involved in extracurriculars,” Ha said.

Much of the work lights and sound does is fine-tuned before the show begins. “For light, something people don’t often know is that you have to pre-record cues using an online software. Colors, intensity, location, and special effects are all pre-recorded. But moving the spotlight is done manually in the show,” senior Lights and Sound Director August Petry said. Sound, which manages the balancing of microphones and amps, requires move-live adjustment. “The only thing we have prepared are the sound effects, which we hit on cue. But other than that, it’s a lot of live audio mixing with sliders and buttons,” Ha explained.

While watching a theater production, it’s hard to realize just how important lights and sound are for the quality of the show. “Without lights and sound, you’ll be having normal people talking at a normal volume on stage in complete darkness. Without lights and sound, you can’t even have a show to be done—it’d just be a dark tea party,” soph-frosh Lights and Sound Director Jasmine Liang said. It’s the job of the lights and sound crew to bring the show to life in front of an audience seated far away.

Unfortunately, technical difficulties often break that illusion. Many of the lights and sound crews faced technical difficulties this year across their performances. For soph-frosh lights, one of the lights got stuck for several minutes at the start of Thursday’s show. “I was supposed to [go] from Cue 2 all the way to Cue 12, but by then it was still stuck on Cue 2,” Liang said. Soph-frosh sound has similar issues. “During Josephine’s song, “Skyfall,” there was this crackling noise throughout the entire song that we couldn’t get rid of until she went backstage. That was painful, because that was the high point of the show,” soph-frosh Lights and Sound Director Mimi Gardner remarked.

Effectively managing these technical difficulties is pivotal to the success of the show. “In order to succeed in light, it’s important to keep composure when things go wrong, and remember that the audience doesn’t know how this show is supposed to go,” Liang said. “That’s how you win, because confidence is key.”

Lights and sound crew members bonded closely through all the challenges. “Even though it’s a really small crew, we’re a very tight-knit crew, and I’ve formed some really, really close friends. [We also bonded] partly because it’s just kind of stressful to be putting on this show. We’re all working together live, we’re putting on this performance in tandem with the performance that’s happening on the actual stage. And we really rely on each other to get the job done seamlessly and without technical difficulties,” Ha said.

Through hard work and comradery, Ha believes that lights and sound has truly succeeded this year, contributing to the first SING! win for the class of 2024. “The equipment obviously is very complicated. And August, the lights producer, came on a week before the show because of some difficulties we had with leadership. But I think we really pulled through, and our lights were fantastic. I couldn’t be more proud of my crew members as well, who have learned so much and have been so receptive to feedback and just have been amazing,” Ha said.


By Ankita Saha

Though not easily visible, the stage crew played an integral role in SING! coordination and cooperation. The seamlessly integrated transitions, cues, and communication seen on stage were all thanks to the stage crew. In this crew, members are responsible for cueing other crews such as lights and sound, tech, and dance. They were also tasked with announcements and maintaining communication between the crews.

Estella Yee, one of the directors for soph-frosh stage, expressed the crucial role that the crew plays in the overall production of SING!. “Stage crew is basically like the glue of any theater production. Even though we don’t work on the making of the show, it’s really important on show dates because we are the ones who cue everything,” she shared in an e-mail interview. “Mostly, we track the script during the show and give out warnings for blackouts, lights, sound, and spot cues, bring dance crews backstage, follow the chorus around, and fix any problems backstage, like micing.”

Yee first joined as an assistant director during her freshman year. “I originally joined the crew because I wanted to find a way to get involved in SING! but wasn’t sure how. It’s a pretty low-commitment crew until the week leading up to the show, so I liked that it was only high-stress for a shorter time,” she expressed.

A unique aspect that came with the responsibilities of the stage crew is that members bonded with other crews throughout the production. “My favorite part is being able to work with and establish connections with everybody in the show,” Yee said. “Being a part of the stage crew [means] the most important thing is communication, so I have been able to interact with everyone involved in the show and everyone backstage and make a lot of friends along the way.”

Johnny Lin, one of the directors of Junior SING!’s stage crew shared similar sentiments. “My favorite part about working in stage crew has been the friends I’ve made while interacting with the performers and technical crew members backstage,” he shared.

Nevertheless, the crew also faced several challenges in the production of SING!. “Having only nine members proved difficult at times, but the dedication of the members definitely pulled through,” Lin shared. “In order to coordinate rehearsal dates and show date schedules for my members, I had to make multiple conflict calendars to ensure that there were enough members to complete tasks each day.” 

Despite the large number of responsibilities that the crew needed to take on, the directors were able to successfully delegate these tasks and ensure a smooth run of SING!. “Overall, I think stage was a success, as cues were on point and communication went smoothly,” Lin expressed.


By Grace Jung

Members of dance crews in SING! typically expect hundreds of eyes on them. However, Flow’s unique charm is precisely the opposite: as beguiling flashes of light circulate the air, amazing hundreds of viewers, the wielders themselves remain hidden. Yet, flow members did not fail to enthrall the audience, using their whips and staffs as extensions of their own bodies and demonstrating their undeniable dedication and talent.

Flow’s sense of community is unmatched, which is what drew in students of all grade levels to take the responsibility of being a director for their respective grades. Soph-frosh Flow Director Sonya Cisse joined StuyFlow, a club at Stuyvesant separate from SING!, as a freshman. From the start, she knew that she loved flow and wanted to continue it for the remainder of her high school career. “The flow community is really welcoming and inclusive—it’s what made Stuyvsant feel like home when I first joined as a freshman, and it’s how I’ve made most of my close friends,” Cisse described.

Junior Flow Director Leo Ye shared a similar sentiment concerning Flow’s sense of community. “I never fail to have fun when I hang out with everyone, and it’s always the bright part of my day. Flow feels like a giant family to me, and we still continue to hang out after SING!,” he explained.

The community in flow is partially because students rarely join with prior experience: “Another aspect I love about flow is the way people join flow knowing nothing. It creates a sense of community when we teach each other how to perform new moves, do cool tricks, and just talk about our days,” senior Flow Director Rachel Gao stated.

Each director for Flow explained the difficulties that they had to overcome. Cisse faced a plethora of responsibilities to ensure steady progression on the team, which was particularly difficult, as it was her first time directing flow for SING!. “I was responsible for setting up my crew's communication platform, scheduling practices, making room reservations, taking attendance, booking studios, collecting studio fees, creating Facebook posts about important events and due dates, and making sure that everybody in the crew knew what had to be done for show day,” she described. 

Cisse described how commitment and availability were the main dilemmas between members. “It was difficult to make sure that everybody came to practice and to plan things in a way where people's schedules aligned,” she recalled. “At times, it was also difficult to make sure that communication was smooth with my co-directors.”

This issue was extremely prevalent for juniors, a notoriously rigorous year. “One difficulty we faced was simply how busy junior year is. A lot of people have tests or other commitments that make it hard to show up to the practices,” Ye said.

Despite the difficulties of balancing flow with other commitments, Junior SING! dazzled on stage, making the difficult process worth it. “Our performance ended up looking better than I ever could’ve expected. I’m really proud of my crew for showing up so often to practices and being phenomenal on stage,” Ye stated. “This year, Flow put out some of its best performances, and not just juniors, but every year did absolutely amazing,” he added.

For senior flow, the most difficult process was to learn the difficult moves under tight deadlines. “We had around a week to have half of our dance taught to the members, and another week for the rest. The way flow is structured—teaching moves first before choreographies—made it hard for us to keep up at first because our newer members were still working on basic moves,” Gao explained.

However, Gao believes that flow’s end result made the effort worthwhile. “I think this year was the most stressful and best SING! flow performance my year has ever done. I can't speak for the other directors, but my choreographed sections looked phenomenal, and I feel so proud of the members who are a part of my sections, especially because I have given them challenging choreographies as beginners and they executed them so well on stage. [...] Being my last SING! performance, I feel fulfilled with how it turned out,” she added. 

Though the premise of flow is to be in the dark, flow in all grades truly shined on stage through their passion, lighting up the show—both figuratively and literally.