Arts and Entertainment

Masquerade Murders the Competition

The Spectator reviews Senior SING!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When a white letter with a blood red seal containing an invitation to a masquerade ball is handed to you, how could you possibly say no?

After producing SophFrosh SING! in his freshman year and coordinating SING! for the past two years, Alec Shafran was back in action for his final year as Senior SING! Coordinator. With producers Avni Garg, Ella Krechmer, Elizabeth Stansberry, and Ava Yap, the group worked tirelessly to create a performance with daring twists and innovative choreography, nailing the mysterious theme of “Masquerade” with detailed sets and costumes.

The show opened to sparkling dresses and a jazzy rendition of Copacabana sung by Candy (Leah D’Silva) and Kanye South (Michael Borczuk), the heads of the traditionally wealthy South family. This year, they hosted the STD (which stands for Sing the Dance, not what you were thinking) masquerade ball at the KanCandy mansion to celebrate the couple’s 25th anniversary as well as their daughter North Dakota South’s (Cynthia Tan) entrance into high society. The costume crew’s work shone through in Candy’s green dress and later in her white hoop dress, as well as in the elaborate masks of the characters. The opening sequence set the stage (literally) for a lively, dramatic show with dazzling sets and an upbeat soundtrack.

The scene suddenly transitioned to Café Ramirez, with the chorus singing Bohemian Rhapsody. We meet Scaramouche (Samuel Espinal Jr), Fandango “Dingus” (Clara Shapiro), and Frances Francis (Christine Lin), low class commoners desperate to fit into upper class society. When an invitation to STD is dropped in front of them, along with many sausages, the three decide to attend the ball in hopes of finding love, climbing the social ranks, and, of course, eating more sausages.

We then went back to the KanCandy mansion where North and Montana Hanna (Katherine Yo), best friends since childhood, prepared for the ball. When Candy entered, the tension between her and Montana was clear—Candy refused to let her daughter associate with her, for reasons that were never fully explained. Audiences were left expecting a resolution to this conflict that never ended up arriving, one of the major lacking points in the plot.

Midway through the scene, the Belly and Bolly dancers, the only Belly and Bolly crews of all of the grades, sashayed in. The choreography began with a traditional belly dance, but halfway through, the music switched to a modernized beat and the Bolly crew with lehenga costumes took over. The alluring dancing made for an engaging and unique performance, one of the highlights of all of the dancing crews across all shows.

In the ball, Bolly had another performance creating a romantic ambience with Frances inserting cheesy pickup-lines throughout. Soon after, North met Frances and hinted at a possible love interest that was unfortunately never developed in the story. In a confusing interaction, Fandango and Scaramouche suddenly appeared on stage and accidentally took Montana, thinking she was Frances, while Frances lay on the floor. After Frances woke up, Kanye introduced the guests to the ball reading off of speech cards, the humor of the scene landing due to Michael’s delivery. The garden was elaborately decorated, with floral bouquets, a banquet table, and beautiful statues. Hip-hop and Stap (Step and Tap) then took the stage as Scaramouche sang “Beggin’,” with the lyrics changed to express his desire to be a member of the upper class.

Nearly 40 minutes into the show, we finally arrived at the actual substance of the plot: murder! Montana was poisoned and fell to the ground while North wept over her body in an emotional and tragic moment made genuine by the acting of Katherine Yo and Cynthia Tan. The Modern dance, paired with the blue lighting and spotlight of North singing “The Night We Met,” arguably rivaled the performance of the Belly and Bolly crews. Tan’s heart-wrenching delivery and beautiful vocals earned her first place for best acting performance.

While the scene was one of the highlights of the show, its placement was far too late. Up to this point, the audience had been bombarded with exposition upon exposition, leaving the actual plot unclear until the murder. With only 20 minutes left in the show to find out who-dunnit, the pacing was forced to be rushed and left little time to explore the motives of the murderer.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves—let’s meet the suspects! In a cover of “Cell Block Tango,” Scaramouche, Fandango, Candy, Kanye, Frances, and Marion Wadsworth each presented their case for why they were not the murderer, with “imposter” “Among Us” jokes being taken too far. It was later revealed that there was a mask switch-up between Frances and Montana before the murder, a plot device used to add an extra twist at the expense of character consistency.

Following the close of the Cell Block Tango, it became clear all too quickly that Candy was the one who killed Montana, a reveal which had little build-up and overall impact due to the rushed pacing. Candy revealed that her intention was to murder Frances in a scene where she sings “Gasoline,” with Senior Flow dancing in the background. Her motive, though, was unclear, as the tension established between Candy and Montana at the beginning of the show led audiences to think that Candy would want to kill Montana. The mask switch unnecessarily complicated the situation since Candy believed she was killing Frances rather than Montana, someone she had only met hours before and had little reason for killing. Had the switch been left out, or Frances killed instead of Montana, the plot would’ve felt significantly smoother. Additionally, the class divide conflict setup by Scaramouche, Fandango, and Frances was not addressed, with Scaramouche’s insistence on joining high society defeating the overarching message about class equality.

The performance reached the one hour mark and was abruptly cut off on Thursday, omitting the Latin crew’s performance and resolution of the plot. During the other two days, however, Latin and Swing were able to perform impressive lifts and tricks to conclude the show in an equally dramatic manner to which it began. They ended with a final scene with all of the performers as the band played “Good 4 U.”

Despite being outscored on Thursday and Friday, the seniors were able to come back with dramatic fashion in the last show, bringing their total to 1757 points and beating the juniors by just 52 points. What Senior SING! lacked in plot and character depth is masked by (pun intended) the captivating sets, musical and dance sequences, and costumes. Though Senior SING! masqueraded as a conventional murder mystery, the culmination of well-crafted elements was able to create an enchanting atmosphere.