Wildin’ Out in the Wild West

The Spectator’s review of SophFrosh SING!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“Be free... Let go of your anger... We are just dust in this endless universe.”

Coming off a historic victory in last year’s SING!, SophFrosh SING! had the bar set higher than ever. Coordinated by sophomore Joanne Hwang and produced by sophomores Sama  Daga, Tristan Haugh, and Leah Riegel, and freshmen Emma Ching and Hilda Liang, this year’s production—themed “The Wild West”—told the tale of a young kid by the name of Colby Jack (Jaydon Mei) out to save his town from the Tumbleweeds, a group of bandits in the Wild West who terrorized the town many years ago.

After the opening sequence introduces the Tumbleweeds (Ananya Gupta, Lily Huizingh, Emma Musyuk), “Centuries” is played to present the main characters. Colby is in a barroom with his best friend, Josephine Marshall (Sofia Lawrence), asking for an adventure to satisfy his unrelenting desire to be a heroic cowboy. Josephine tells Colby the whereabouts of Clint Beckett (Henry Santos-Hendricks), the man who defeated the Tumbleweeds 15 years ago but has not been seen since. Then, town marshal and Josephine’s dad, Jim Marshall (Marcus Markova), is seen raving over Clint when he sings a remix of “The Chain.” Colby’s mom, Pepper Jack (Jane No), and dad, Monty Jack (Michael Benshimon), are in disgust with his desire to become a hero, and leave Colby with a decision: stock beans or save Ponyville. 

Following the death of Jim Marshall to the Tumbleweeds, Colby decides to set out to find the famed Clint. Josephine sings a rendition of “Skyfall,” lamenting her dad’s death and fearing of losing her best friend, Colby. When Colby finds Clint meditating, he is faced with the task of helping Clint get over his trauma from when he first faced the Tumbleweeds. Before Clint can decide whether or not to help, the Tumbleweeds come to take the cows, namely Clint’s favorite, Ronald Reagan (Joanne Hwang). Ronald escapes, causing Clint to help Colby train to defeat them in a lassoing-training sequence to the tune of “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”

Many push-ups later, two girl scouts (Jerry Citron and Marissa Maggio) come marching on stage selling girl scout cookies, accidentally interrupting Clint and Colby’s yoga session. After successfully selling their cookies, the girl scouts led the audience in a fitting “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as they walked past a scarecrow with a print out of Brian Moran. 

Following an emotional conversation between Colby and his parents about his goals, the Tumbleweeds return for a final encounter. Their entrance was marked by “The Boys Are Back In Town,” and a heated fight scene ensued to a mashup of “Shut Up And Drive” and “Humble.” The fight could only end one way: the beloved hero, Colby Jack, taking down the Tumbleweeds in a coming-of-age moment. In a heartwarming ending, Colby’s parents accept who their son wants to be, and the show ends with “Cotton Eye Joe.”

Overall, the acting performances of SophFrosh ranged from somewhat passable to truly engaging. Freshman Jaydon Mei’s portrayal of Colby Jack was earnest and feeble, capturing the youthful exuberance and determination of the character, but oftentimes lacking in depth during moments of emotional turmoil or growth. Additionally, sophomore Sofia Lawrence delivered a compelling performance as Josephine Marshall, effectively conveying her anguish and frustration after losing her father and navigating her friendship with Colby. However, no other performance quite compares to sophomore Henry Santos-Hendricks’ tour-de-force portrayal of retired hero Clint Beckett. With his impressive STC experience, starring in both Anastasia and Arsenic Old Lace, Santos-Hendricks brought a level of expertise to the role unparalleled by the rest of the cast. His natural charisma and impeccable timing made every scene he was in a highlight of the production. From vain self-affirmations (“I am hot”) to his endearing mentorship of Colby Jack, Santos-Hendricks cemented himself as one of the most memorable and beloved aspects of the entire production.

While the several dance crews showcased throughout the production had commendable moments, their integration within the plot felt somewhat random and disconnected, likely a result of poor scriptwriting. Despite its awkward placement directly following a tense opening scene, flow had an impressive performance, its members demonstrating stunning synchronization while suffering from very few drops. Modern was highlighted by unique, well-rehearsed stunts and an overall smooth choreography. Latin members wore distinct, flowery red dresses in two separate scenes, both of which featured captivating stunts and choreographies. However, the lack of a seamless integration with the storyline detracted from the overall cohesion of the show and the full potential of the dance scenes.

One of the most memorable aspects of the show was undoubtedly the Wild West set. Complete with an old western town featuring a shop with a draped awning, a well, and a bank, the main set painted a stunning portrait of life in Ponyville. Later, the set transformed to depict Clint Beckett’s farm, filled with a rustic barn, cacti, wagon wheels, and roaming cows. Additionally, the saloon setting was adorned with numerous old pictures of Wild West imagery, along with a bar stocked with bottles and intricately designed saloon doors, tables, and a dartboard that all felt remarkably well made. Despite this immersive setting, however, SophFrosh’s music choices were lacking, adding little depth to the show’s promising art.

Looking back, SophFrosh SING! had some bright spots, but was dragged down by an obvious need for more connectedness and outstanding performances across the board. Both the freshmen and sophomores have undoubtedly gained much experience from this and should hold their heads high until the next SING! season.