While hundreds of students are perfecting their harmonies and complicated group choreography for their three-minute perfomance on the Sing Song stage, six students are practicing during lunch, late into the evenings and on weekends to show off their skills every night in front of thousands.
The six men and women chosen to host Sing Song 2015 have been preparing since December to put on a fun and memorable show.
After an intense audition process, the hosts and hostesses went on a retreat with the production team to learn music and work out details for the show, said Ryce Garren.
“We started by learning the music and doing team-building exercises,” Garren said. “Basically getting the team prepared and ready to go for the next semester.”
The emphasis on team was intended from the very beginning, Joel Edwards said.
As a result, the group of three men and three women has become very close, very quick.
“I was closest to Joel and Cheryl since we’re all theater majors and we spend all day in the WPAC,” Garren said. “I knew them the best going in, and I kind of knew Enrique and Abbie, but I didn’t know Meggie at all going in.”
Daily practices began as soon as the spring semester started, and intensity only grew from there.
“When we came back, we were doing an hour everyday at lunch, and by the next week, these were getting longer,” Edwards said. “Friday nights were dance rehearsals, so we’d been averaging 12 hours of scheduled rehearsals a week.”
For Garren and Edwards, the Sing Song experience is completely new. The Department of Theatre’s spring musical is typically around the time as Sing Song week, and those that are involved in it find it impossible to be in Sing Song as well.
“The musical during Sing Song this year is all women, so that clicked for me, and I immediately auditioned for the host,” Edwards said.
Abbie Baird and Meggie Lewellyn have both been a part of Sing Song in the past and decided to audition for the hostess positions.
“My first two years, I was in a class act, then a club act and then last year I directed the junior class act with my roommate,” Baird said. “This year has been so different because the group I get to work with is so much smaller and more intimate. And the choreography is much more intense, of course.”
Lewellyn, who transferred to ACU her junior year, was part of last year’s winning Ko Jo Kai act.
“My parents are ACU alums and always talked about the hosts and everything they got to do and how close they all were,” Lewellyn said. “They suggested to me to try out, and it looked like fun.”
The rigorous practices can take a toll on the hosts and hostesses who have to perform 18 songs throughout each show. Staying healthy is vital, and getting enough sleep helps with the stress of schoolwork and late nights, Lewellyn said.
“We made a pact that none of us are staying up later than midnight,” Edwards said.
Lewellyn said she tries her best to give the group advice about staying healthy and hydrated.
“At the beginning of the semester, I bought them all water bottles, and they all laughed at me,” she said.
Besides each other, the hosts and hostesses have a support system of Sing Song gurus to help them along the way. Tom Craig, director of student productions, keeps Sing Song fun and full of surprises.
“When Tom is ready to tell us something new about the show, we get a phone call from him that’s like ‘meet me at this random Mexican food place in the morning, I’ve got something to show you,'” Edwards said. “He loves surprises. He had all the songs we were going to sing written on notecards.”
Kristin Ward coaches the hosts and hostesses on their vocals, Terry Wilkerson choreographs their numbers and Amber Peck is the wardrobe coordinator.
Despite the stress and work that goes along with hosting Sing Song, what is most important to the hosts and hostesses is that the audience has fun watching the show. This year’s theme is “Countdown.”
“The way that the hosts are treating it is like American Bandstand,” Edward said. “Think of it like the movie Hairspray. The ‘Countdown’ theme is because we’re doing number ones through the years.”
With a fun theme and show packed with crowd-pleasers, the group of hosts and hostesses are looking forward to the performance.
“We’re all over the board this year which I think makes it way more fun,” Lewellyn said. “Each audience member can relate to at least one song that we’re singing.”
Along with great song selection, the group insists it is their closeness that will make them successful.
“It really helps for us to have chemistry outside of actual performances because it causes us to want songs to go well for each other as much as we do for ourselves,” Baird said.
///2015 Sing Song hosts and hostesses///
Ryce Garren – senior musical theatre major from Amarillo
Joel Edwards – junior musical theatre major from Tyler
Cheryl Bell – junior musical theatre major from Austin
Meggie Lewellyn – senior nutritional science major from Mansfield
Abbie Baird – senior youth and family ministry major from Austin
Enrique Barrera – senior vocal performance major from Houston