Reading Time: 13 minutes
By Abigail Jin
During the dark turning point of Soph-Frosh SING!, flow lit up the stage in glowing colors. Unlike for the other dance crews, the stage was pitch-black as they stunned the audience with rapidly spinning props. Their members, shrouded in black, showed off their agile moves with their illuminated glowsticks, whips and staffs, putting on a dazzling performance to the catchy song “Queen.”
Sophomore and flow director Fiona Chen joined flow, which also does performances outside of SING!, in her freshman year. “It kind of became the backbone of my Stuy life and my motivation to go to school,” Chen said. “Since flow meant and still means so much to me, I wanted to be able to provide other people the same experiences I had back when I was a newbie and to help them find community here, like I did. Now that I’m a director, I find it really rewarding to see people connect over the mutual interest of flow.” Flow members are able to have fun bonding over choreography in a community that encourages creativity.
For SING!, choreographing routines and organizing the props budget was a large part of Chen’s responsibilities. She also learned to manage and coordinate the crew, which was challenging at times. “I feel like the hardest responsibility as a director is being able to direct the members and make sure that everyone is being respectful to the other crews and their fellow flow members,” Chen explained.
Altogether, soph-frosh’s dedicated flow members created a memorable spectacle during SING! “I think I’m pretty satisfied with our performance because even if something gets dropped or if [the] choreo is a little bit off, I know the amount of effort everyone has constantly put in and [I] really appreciate it,” Chen said.
Lights and Sound
By Ankita Saha
Throughout Soph-Frosh SING! and Junior SING!’s performances, lights and sound was integral in bringing each show’s world to life. For every scene, crew members had to make sure that the lighting was drawing in the audience’s attention, and that the sound was enhancing the dialogue, illuminating the student performances.
Sophomore and soph-frosh lights and sound co-director Christopher Choe joined the crew during his freshman year, and wanted to share his learning experience, motivating him to take on his leadership role. “I really wanted to share that experience—I had to work with lights and sound with others who didn’t really have much exposure,” Choe shared. “They can also feel the joy of controlling backstage and just using lights and sounds.”
Being in this crew came with some unique challenges. Choe shared that soph-frosh lights and sound had less time in the booth than other grades. “We didn’t have much time, because we had to share the booth with juniors and seniors as well. So we had to write the necessary cues down before our new members joined, and then we had to manage time to help them get into the booth,” Choe explained. While there were some challenges, Choe expressed that he is proud of the work they did: “I feel like we got everything done and just managed very well.”
Junior lights and sound co-director Dorothy Ha shared similar sentiments about her time co-directing Junior SING! She too had experience from previously directing soph-frosh lights and sound. She feels that having the opportunity to direct was an exciting and valuable experience. “We don't get seen often. I feel like we play a large part in contributing to the show and making sure that everything runs smoothly. And we’re also kind of giving a performance during the show, like, running through the lights and sound and making sure that everything is running,” Ha expressed. “We're very small, but mighty.”
By Johnny Lin
A month before SING!, the tech directors were hard at work coming up with ideas for their sets, materials, and tools. As time went on, these ideas came to fruition, as almost 100 tech members across all grades worked tirelessly to construct the beautiful sets seen during the shows. During these shows, the tech members had to get set pieces on and off the stage in complete darkness, maneuvering through backstage in just under a minute for each scene change. These set pieces were humongous and heavy; they required multiple people to move each of them across the stage.
Sophomore and tech co-director Vanessa Chen first joined the crew during the winter 2021 drama With Their Eyes, and was chosen by fine arts and technology teacher Leslie Bernstein as one of the tech co-directors along with fellow sophomore, Felice Li, for this year’s Soph-Frosh SING! As someone with five shows under her belt, Chen was well-versed in all the aspects of tech, although this was her first time directing a crew of 32 people. “For Soph-Frosh SING! 2022, Felice [Li] and I only had one show’s worth of experience as assistant directors, so when we became tech directors this year, it was a top priority for us to avoid the major issues we had faced last year,” Chen explained.
Since tech crews all work under Bernstein’s supervision in a designated part of the theater, the groups from each grade worked cohesively as one. For example, they would order lumber for the entire production, with each grade claiming what they would like to use and sharing so that each production’s needs were met. “Ordering wood was something new to us as neither of us had participated in the process last year. Our set designs changed multiple times and we had to recalculate how much wood we required, which was one of the most stressful parts of the process. In the end, we ended up buying over $1,000 of wood for our builds,” Chen explained.
After many sleepless nights of planning this year’s SING!, the work of all grades paid off with smashing success. “Looking back, I definitely did not expect soph-frosh to win this year at all, nor did I expect for us to get the most points in both the sets and technical aspects categories across the whole school. I think all of the hard work my fantastic members have put in for the month of preparations has definitely paid off, and I cannot wait to do it again next year,” Chen said.
By Julia Chernobelsky
The complex plotline and creative setting of Junior SING!’s elemental summer camp stemmed from the minds of just eight script writers. The script is the first part of the musical that has to be completed. Without the plot outlined, no other crews can begin working. “Once script writers were announced, we created a group chat to start bouncing any and all ideas around with each other, and we combined the ideas we liked into a single outline within the first two days,” Junior SING! scriptwriter Melody Huang said.
Instantly, the script writers knew that they wanted to create a complex plot that followed a lesbian couple, with some element of murder involved. In order for this to happen, there needed to be some tension at the camp. “By introducing an elemental divide, we were able to define stereotypical personalities for each of our characters, and the competition between the elements would help drive the plot forward,” Huang added.
During that first week, each writer had to draft one scene, and then listen to a run-through with the cast. “We met with the cast directors and faculty advisors to take notes on continuity issues and plot holes and spent the next few days fixing these,” Huang explained. However, the work did not end there. Up until the last day of performances, aspects of the script were being changed in order to fit the play within the one hour limit and maximize plot and character development. “Following Mr. Ramirez’s suggestion, we created three sets of jokes—one for each night depending on the order of the performances that night,” Huang added. By doing this, they ensured that the audience could follow all of the jokes.
However, during the creative process, there were several miscommunications. “We were never able to get all eight script writers into a meeting at once,” Huang said. This was an issue because major decisions were made without everyone’s opinions being considered. “This resulted in some discontinuity when writing the script, as some people missed some of the changes we made, but these were all smoothed out through later edits,” Huang described.
Ultimately, the juniors ended up tying with seniors for points in the script category. The entire show was shaped by the important work the script writers did, as well as the performers’ execution. “I love seeing creations from my own mind come alive on stage. This year, it was especially fulfilling to see audience members cheer for their element assignments with red, white, blue, or green streamer handouts and dive into the world we created using the elemental cards,” Huang concluded.
By Olivia Woo
Just as a plaster cast supports the bone structure of an arm, the cast of each SING! production formed the backbone of the dynamic show that hit the stage each night. Every member of the cast held the responsibility of memorizing their lines, singing the songs, and donning the costumes that other crews had spent the season creating. On top of this impressive agenda was an even greater task: convincing the audience that they had transformed from a Stuyvesant student to an otherworldly character, from a magical camper to a sinister court jester.
For the cast of Junior SING!, much of the work that went into developing these characters came to fruition even before the show’s plot was developed. From the early days of cast rehearsals, junior cast directors Matthew Monge and August Petry found creative ways to develop chemistry among members and help them tap into their inner campers. “When the script was still being developed, we did these improv games where the characters got into their character and they met their fellow camp members and they intermingled. And we actually used a bunch of that for the final performance,” Monge explained.
The emphasis that the cast directors put on character development as opposed to strict memorization of lines and lyrics proved instrumental in working out issues that arose as show days neared. “Toward the end [of the season], it was mainly panic mode, cutting lines, re-memorizing lines and during the Friday show, rewriting an entire character,” Monge recounted. The ability of cast members to work around absent scene partners and last-minute changes is a testament to the trust that was built up during daily rehearsals.
Likewise, the Soph-Frosh SING! cast directors were remarkably successful in attaining this sense of community and camaraderie, even when dealing with the challenges that came with leading members from two different grades. “Even though we had three sophomores, and one freshman [director], all of us just had this goal where we wanted in every respect, [equal] sophomore and freshman involvement,” sophomore and director Dale Heller said.
Coming into a production as big as SING! in a role as front-and-center as a cast member can be intimidating for freshmen, but the directors prioritized familial dynamics through bonding games and other activities. “I wanted to make sure that we made the freshman feel welcome and never feel for a second that they were not having a good time or [were] underappreciated in the cast,” sophomore and director Adeline Sauberli explained.
Likewise, the directors took the energy that other crews were putting into SING! seriously, and efficiently organized joint rehearsals during which the final production could be pieced together. “We created a schedule based on which days soph-frosh would be on different floors in the building. For example, [we worked] with dance crews on theater days, [and] music on fifth floor days,” sophomore and cast director Zoey Marcus recounted.
Much of the responsibility of integrating other crews’ performances also fell to the cast. “One major challenge that we faced was figuring out what to cut from the show when we were 10 minutes over time,” freshman and assistant cast director Amanda Greenberg said.
Even through the trials and tribulations that arose during SING! season, the directors felt that the strong bonds they formed made the whole experience worth it. “Directing with Matthew [Monge] has genuinely been such a great experience, and I’ve learned so much from the ways our styles interact,” Petry said. “I will always fondly look back on our month directing together.”
By Emily Ryu
As the lights hit the stage, the glimmering, silky red dresses and glamorous gold ribbons took the audience back in time to an enchanting royal palace. Soph-Frosh SING! costumes received much praise this year, and rightfully so. Sophomore and costumes director Mirei Ueyama elaborated on the creative process behind these designs by describing how she needed to strike a balance between historical accuracy and creativity. “We researched the style of the time period and how they could fit the roles of each dance crew or cast member,” Ueyama stated.
Ueyama also described the intense workload that being a costumes director entailed. “It’s a lot of work. We have to procure, budget, and buy the fabric after designing all of the costumes. Then we have to measure crews, teach new members, and create all of the costumes for them,” Ueyama recalled.
Nonetheless, Ueyama is grateful to the costumes members as well as the other directors for making her experience special. Ueyama remarked, “The best conversations are always when we are sewing or cutting fabric in groups, and I love that I get to know each and every member.”
By Dalia Levanon
As the overhead lights beam down on the actors’ faces mid-song, their expressions are captured perfectly with exaggerated features and heightened emotion. SING! makeup is far more than beautification and glamor (although there is no shortage of that); it is a necessary tool that amplifies the characters’ personas, allowing the audience to grasp the intensity of the scenes taking place onstage.
The process of brainstorming makeup looks begins far in advance of the actual performance. Junior makeup director Amy Gorreja sought inspiration from color schemes and fantastical elements. “For Earth, I thought of cute little elves or fairies with vines on their faces, arms, and legs,” Gorreja explained.
Soph-Frosh makeup director Julia Klosowiak consulted with her assistant director to model their designs off the royal court theme. “We worked with the cast directors and asked for descriptions of the different characters. This helped us better understand the characters and how they would express and present themselves as individuals,” Klosowiak said. Klosowiak also gained guidance from outside of the student body. “Even the security guards who work at Stuy ended up giving us advice. It was really wholesome and we kept going back to the guard each time we fixed the makeup look for more advice.”
Senior makeup director Synthia Shohel, who began her SING! career as a costume designer, also immersed herself in the characters to build her vision. “Historically, makeup crew has gotten by with little to work with and having more minimal roles, but this year, especially since our characters were ‘evil,’ we had no option but to go big or go home. For very important looks such as Gluttony, Envy and Wrath, it was a lot of brainstorming around a tablet and building off of each other’s ideas. We also had to keep up with whatever costumes we were doing, especially for the vibe of Gluttony just to make sure the face matches the outfit,” Shohel explained. Some of the notes that Shohel distributed to her crew included “Glinda from Wicked vibes,” “black shadows with green glitter” for Envy, and “dark, ‘chocolaty’ brown” eyes and “cherry stickers” for Gluttony.
Shohel also said that cultural elements influenced her designs. “The other makeup director, Liz, and I are huge fans of Broadway, and Envy’s look took inspiration from that. We also like to give our crew members trendy materials to work with and that’s why I chose to use gold temporary tattoos for Bolly’s look,” Shohel elaborated.
Once the final looks were decided upon, it was up to the makeup directors to teach their teams how to replicate them. “We did a majority of our practices during midwinter break,” Gorreja revealed. “To make it easier I drew out the makeup looks for them.”
Shohel’s crew struggled to find time to practice their looks while adjusting ideas and staying on top of budgeting. Apart from the remote meetings where the designs were introduced and specific characters were assigned, the crew members only had one week to practice before the production. “On the Monday of the final week, we had our first rehearsal where we were able to pull some models from dance crews and practice our looks on cast. The first day is usually a little hectic, but the other directors and I didn’t pressure our members with things such as timing, and rather [we] let them get used to the atmosphere we’d be working in for the next few days,” Shohel explained.
Since the actors were often unavailable, Shohel’s team turned to other methods of rehearsal. “We practiced mainly with each other, which helped us get closer as a team. Iris [Chan] and I also shared tips that made doing crew makeup easier, such as using setting spray to apply glitter to the eyes or teaching them how to tell what kind of eye shape their dancer/actor has and how to accommodate that so that they can look their best,” Shohel described.
However, Shohel shared that the process did not go off without any hiccups: “On the final Monday, numerous supplies had not come in yet, including makeup wipes! Luckily, we were able to make outside purchases that night that gave us all the products we needed to complete our look and maintain hygiene.”
With the crew members prepped and ready, the day of the show finally arrived. Gorreja recalled the immense pressure that makeup artists face on performance nights. “I honestly think the most challenging part for makeup was getting my hand to stop shaking when August was giving us time stamps.” Gorreja reflected on applying her looks to various cast members: “Doing the girls’ makeup was so chill and we were all just having a blast. The guys, though, kept on flinching and moving away which I found really funny.”
Shohel honored a particular refrain on production nights. “In theater, less is never more, and on our final night we were far more bold with the colors, the contour, the blush, and pretty much everything so that our cast could look their best in their final show ever in high school,” Shohel said.
Gorreja shared her concluding thoughts on this year’s makeup results. “Of course, some things became simpler to account for time, but I’m really proud of how much time my crew took to practice the looks,” Gorreja said. “I don’t think I would change anything about the experience except getting less glitter on my hands. They became literal disco balls.”
Overall, Shohel experienced many of SING! 2023’s highlights: “My favorite moments were definitely when I overheard either the cast or crew complimenting our looks. It made our work feel appreciated and it reaffirmed what I do this for. Makeup is like the war paint we put on our soldiers before we send them off to battle on the stage.”