The Show Must Go On(line)
Issue 11, Volume 111
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, SING! will be hosted virtually this year. Due to the uncertainty of the spring semester, SING! will be operating on a later timeline compared to that of previous years. Though the three show dates are traditionally in mid-March, the virtual performances will be later in the year. With the recording process starting in April, the anticipated livestream date will be in June to accommodate the logistics of the large production. There will also be no dues or ticket fees collected.
SING! is an annual schoolwide student-run musical competition in which each grade competes against the others (with the exception of freshmen and sophomores, who compete together as SophFrosh SING!). The crux of SING! preparation is similar to that of past years, but with modifications. In an in-person school year, SING! preparation starts in mid-January, and coordinators, slate producers, scriptwriters, songwriters, crew directors, and crew members are all often chosen by late January. From there, there are tryouts, learning days, and practices. Because of the later timeline, current crew rosters are being finalized through February. All meetings and SING! events are scheduled to be completely online, and platforms such as Zoom and Flipgrid will be used.
In addition, all participants will be held accountable to the COVID-19 guidelines set by Coordinator of Student Affairs Matthew Polazzo and coordinators Lianne Ohayon, Alec Shafran, and Liam Kronman of SophFrosh SING!, Junior SING!, and Senior SING!, respectively. The respective SING! team(s) will be given point deductions if rules are broken. “The biggest COVID-19 guideline we have in place is that SING! members cannot physically meet up to rehearse or record for SING!. With rehearsals, recordings, and writing done at home, we've been able to circumvent having an extensive policy for how meet-ups will occur,” Kronman said in an e-mail interview.
Drawing on their ability to adapt to the virtual setting, crew directors will have the freedom to decide the audition process for their respective crews, be it through a Google Form/Flipgrid or live audition. “It is the people who would be hired in a normal SING! season that possess the skill set to not only run an efficient crew but also adapt to the new format and the new circumstances that we have to deal with to ensure that the production is just as good as any other year, if not better,” Shafran said in an e-mail interview. Rehearsals will be conducted over Zoom or other video-streaming platforms.
However, this flexibility is also a challenge in regards to scheduling. “At school, SING! members would claim whole floors, and rehearsals would happen every day after school. However, virtually, we don't have this luxury, and we'd like to accommodate the altered schedules of many SING! members,” Kronman said. “This has proved quite challenging, as Slate has to manage the many, different-paced schedules of crews.”
In light of the changes, coordinators hope to preserve the SING! atmosphere while still upholding safety. While they are preserving the majority of artistic or production-specific elements, there will be an editing crew to each SING! production. Other crews, such as Tech and Lights & Sound, will be modified by merging with other crews to adapt to the virtual setting. “The most important thing about maintaining the feel of a normal SING! season is that sense of community and unity. The reason that people keep coming back to SING! year after year is that this is what introduced them to so many of their closest friends,” Shafran said.
This year, there will be no dues collected. Instead, all money will be raised through external fundraising. In addition to a predetermined budget from the Student Union (SU) and a donation from the Parent Association (PA), individual SING! donations will be done through the PA’s Giving Tree website. All fundraised money will be distributed among the three SING! teams evenly.
The SU, which historically plays a large role in the SING! production, will be preparing for livestream services instead of planning for ticket distribution. Tickets this year will also be free of charge. “[SING!] goes into a lot of the funding that we provide for clubs and events we host. This year we want to be especially aware of the situations that students and families are going through and we want to make SING! a cost-free thing. We want this tradition to be something everyone can participate in,” senior and Student Union President Julian Giordiano said.
Compared to last year, this year’s SING! will require less of an administrative role from teachers and staff members. “To a certain degree, there is less of an administrative role because a lot of what administrators need to do with SING! was over-perceived with the logistics of actually holding physical rehearsals and performance in the physical states of Stuy,” Polazzo said. “Making sure that the kids were reporting themselves properly and not spilling out of their assigned rooms and getting security to watch over the hallways—the fact that everything is happening in the students’ homes reduces the need for a lot of administrative stuff.”
Additionally, there have been no changes to the SING! charter other than the ones needed to adapt SING! to a virtual setting. “The essential elements of SING! are basically still the same,” Polazzo said. Judging, which consists of 30 alumni judges, will remain.
Despite the virtual setting, many are hopeful for the continual engagement in SING! “It can be easy to undermine a performance that’s completely virtual, but it’s really important to recognize that this is going to be a really historical SING!, and we want students to recognize that and get excited for the production that we’re hoping to create,” junior and SU Vice President Shivali Korgaonkar said.
Coordinators themselves are optimistic about the final product. “I'm a little concerned about the uncertainty surrounding some aspects of the production, but that has been the case with all productions I've been involved with at Stuy. It always works out,” Ohayon said.