“They always told me to ‘just mouth the words, Schubert.'”
ACU President Phil Schubert remembers his Sing Song experience fondly, even if he wasn’t a standout vocalist.
And Schubert is not alone. He is just one of many faculty and staff who as students braved the sleepless nights, costume malfunctions and sore jaw muscles to participate in ACU’s most cherished tradition.
Every year since 1957, classes and clubs have created rewritten lyrics to well-known songs to reflect a theme and compete for the best performance.
Some students might think teeth, coffee cups and Supermen are goofy, but the staff members who participated in Sing Songs past can still remember the costumes they wore, the long rehearsals and embarrassing moments and, most of all, the friendships they made.
Julie Danley, a resident nurse at the ACU Medical Clinic, recalls the jalapeño costumes the Siggies wore one year as a shiny green pepper costume with a bright green stem for a hat.
“Our costumes looked great up on stage but terrible up close,” she said.
Robert Oglesby, director of ACU Center for Youth and Family Ministry, said his favorite costume was when he was King Tut with Galaxy.
“Our costumes did not cover our stomachs,” Oglesby said. “Some guys had great abs and others needed to be on the back row of the act.”
Sing Song director, Tom Craig, said he had some crazy costumes his two years in Sing Song.
“My junior year, we were toddlers, and my senior year we were the Dallas Cowboys,” he said.
Alan Wages, assistant professor of family studies, is a seven-time Sing Song veteran. He said he took part in every class act and Pi Kappa act offered during his time at ACU.
Wages proudly listed off all seven costumes he sported as a Sing Songer. He was a mailman his sophomore year, disco dancer his junior year, and a pirate, knight and Paul Buyan in Pi Kappa.
Wages recalls loving his freshman year act costume of silverware until the group got onstage for the performance.
“When we got on stage, we realized it was a bad idea because the foam material we used to make our costumes absorbed the sound,” he said. “We had a humongous number of people, but you couldn’t really hear us.”
The staff and faculty still remember those awkward Sing Song mess-ups in the last few days before the show.
Tamara Long, director of admissions, said when she was in the 2003 Sigma Theta Chi bridesmaid act, their rehearsal on the final night was a disaster.
“All the Siggies’ veils and wigs went flying everywhere,” she said. “Our choreography was a disaster.”
However, she said, the Siggies had the last laugh.
“It made us pull our act together in 24 hours, and we ended up winning,” Long said.
Erin Daugherty, area coordinator of Sikes Hall and A.B. Morris Hall, said her most embarrassing moment happened when she was co-director of the 2012 senior class act. She said before each show, the senior class would circle up and meow in four-part harmony to “There’s A Stirring.”
“Our ‘meows’ were filling up the gym, and I’m pretty sure everyone hated us,” she said. “We were pretty obnoxious.”
Schubert said the uncomfortable moments are part of what made Sing Song so much fun for him.
“It’s times like that people are borderline exhausted, but also it’s time that you make the most memories,” he said.
Schubert’s most cringe-worthy moments happened when he was onstage.
“It was embarrassing to be out there and display my lack of musical or choreographically talent,” Schubert said.
Oglesby said his most mortifying moment came from living with the Galaxy Sing Song director, Don Hall.
After skipping many of the rehearsals, the director told Oglesby and his friend that if they skipped another rehearsal, they’d be kicked out of the act.
“We were ready for bed and told him that if we came, it would be in our robes,” Oglesby said.
Oglesby recalled that he and his friend were in for a rude surprise.
“We actually went in our robes to practice at the Hillcrest Church, but what we didn’t know is that Siggies were coming over to bring us snacks during practice,” he said. “We looked ridiculous.”
Humiliation aside, it’s hard not to love this long-time tradition.
Jeff Goolsby, director of choral activities and director of Pi Kappa’s 2000 act and winning 2001 Sing Song Act, said his favorite part was achieving a goal alongside friends.
“I love the process,” he said. “The creative impulse to combine songs, lyrics, music, choreography and staging into an entertaining show.”
Wages said he was a part of Goolsby’s act, and said it was his favorite year.
“He was really tough on us, and it was challenging,” Wages said. “But the reward was so much greater when we won that year.”
David Kneip, assistant professor of church history, was a host in 2001. He said he enjoyed being able to take part despite being a grad student.
“I was readily accepted by the undergrad hosts and hostesses,” he said. “The friendships made the challenging production so much fun.”
Galaxy had a three-year winning streak.
“We were probably obnoxious about it,” Oglesby said.
However, he said winning never compared to the last performance.
“I’ll never forget the crowd yelling at the end of our act,” he said. “You could tell everyone enjoyed what they had heard; winning a trophy didn’t measure up to that moment.”
Despite the wins and losses throughout Sing Song’s 58 shows, Schubert sums up the reason students press themselves past their limits, sacrificing grades, free time and sanity for the legendary show each year.
“It’s such a huge part of our heritage,” he said. “It’s one of those odd things that we do that’s a big part of ACU, and unless you are a part of the community, you’ll never understand.”