When people dive into Sing Song week, glittered sets, failing grades, long nights and stressful early mornings transform their lives into craziness. But that’s all normal for the hosts and hostesses.
Their schedules have been packed since they were selected in October for their roles in the 60th show.
This year’s hosts and hostesses represent many majors from across campus including elementary education, pre-physical therapy, marketing, vocal performance and musical theater. This year’s group also has a wide range of hometowns stretching from Texas and Oklahoma to California.
“This is a fun group,” said Mark Jackson, assistant director of Sing Song. “They really support each other and root for each other.”
Ryan Woods, junior pre-physical therapy major from Mesquite, attended Sing Song twice before he came to ACU. He said he remembers looking at the hosts and saying, “That’s exactly what I want to do.” When he became a student, it was his mission to become a host.
This year’s hosts and hostesses have a variety of personalities. The group said the biggest jokester and the most focused in the group is Josh Alexander, junior musical theater major from Keller, while the diva of the group is Woods.
“I am not a diva,” Woods said.
Time is a big commitment for hosts and hostesses.
“When you become a host, you have to sacrifice a lot of things,” said Gabby Thompson, junior vocal performance major from Los Angeles. “You have to know where your priorities are. Enjoy the ride as you go along.”
One of the biggest challenges for hosts and hostesses is balancing their schedules.
“Sing Song is important, but again you have a social life; you have to try to keep up with friends and family,” said Jonathan Steffins, musical theater major from Bixby, Oklahoma. “You’ve got work, school, class – it’s just been a lesson in prioritizing.”
The hosts and hostesses will perform 17 numbers throughout the show. Some songs will include every host and hostess, while others are featured songs, highlighting one of the performers’ vocal talents.
Tom Craig, director of Sing Song, and Kristin Ward, host and hostess vocal coach, began selecting songs for the hosts and hostesses last summer. The two came up with a master list compiled of 50 songs.
“When we had auditions in October and knew what voices we had, we could narrow it down to fit the specific people and their styles,” Ward said. “It is important to us that we represent as many genres of music as possible – pop, rock, folk, country, jazz, 50s, a cappella, Latin, R&B, etc. – to appeal to many generations of audience members.”
In October, the hosts and hostesses were selected, songs were selected and the show began to take shape.
The hosts, hostesses and production team began preparing for Sing Song at a Sing Song retreat the weekend after the fall finals week.
“I’ve been working with this group since finals week of the fall semester, when we went on a retreat to learn all 17 songs they are singing in the show,” Ward said. “I rehearsed with them on vocals every day, Monday through Friday, since the semester started, and they would go to separate choreography rehearsals.”
The hosts and hostesses added choreography the Sunday before the spring semester began.
Teri Wilkerson, the choreographer for student productions, said one difference about this show is how advanced this year’s choreography is from prior years. Wilkerson has worked with Sing Song hosts and hostesses since 2000.
Melissa Myer, downstage co-chair of Sing Song and senior human resource management major from Lubbock, said this year’s hosts and hostesses have the ability to sing and dance at the same time; a natural rhythm everyone wishes they could have.
Wilkerson said this show will be almost impossible for the audience members to leave and not only be entertained and blown away but also have the desire to do a little dancing of their own.
“Each year I try to improve on our technical and performance levels,” Wilkerson said. “I also am determined to increasingly challenge our hosts, hostesses and dance team and continue ACU’s progression into the dance world.”
Wilkerson said out of all of the numbers this year, Uptown Funk is the most advanced.
“Uptown Funk was a challenge for most involved just because it’s high energy hip-hop,” Wilkerson said. “Stylized choreography of this magnitude is totally different than one’s own personal groove.”
The hosts and hostesses view Uptown Funk as the most challenging, too.
“We are dancing and singing all at the same time,” Thompson said. “These are dance moves that you see in music videos.”
With the advanced dance moves, singing can become more difficult for the hosts and hostesses.
“The amount of dancing is the hardest, but it’s going to be the best part about the show,” Alexander said. “Now I get why people lip sync in music videos.”
With the first official night of the show right out around the corner, emotions are high.
“I am so excited to see this whole show come together,” Meyer said. “From the beginning, we wanted to make the 60th anniversary show something that people would remember, and I think we have accomplished that.”
This year’s hosts and hostesses are:
Gabrielle Thompson – vocal performance major from Los Angeles, California
Jonathan Steffins – musical theater major from Bixby, Oklahoma
Josh Alexander – musical theater major from Keller
Lauren Milam – elementary education major from Rowlett
Ryan Woods – pre-physical therapy major from Mesquite
Sarah Yarbrough – marketing major from Farmers Branch
This years’ song list includes:
Dancing in the Street/Get up off of that Thang
Sunny Side of the Street
New York State/Empire State of Mind
Put Your Records On
Singing in the Rain
Up Town Girl/Sharp Dressed Man
On Broadway/Seen the Lights go out on Broadway
Big Yellow Taxi
At the Hop
Wanna Dance with Somebody
Take the Lord
Save the Last Dance
Rock this Town