Concluding his servanthood as the university’s director of student productions, Tom Craig will be issuing his last curtain call after Sing Song 2018.
Craig, who graduated ACU in 1989, said he was hooked after getting his first taste of what Sing Song was. He participated in his junior and senior acts as a toddler and a Dallas Cowboy, respectively. Craig said he loved how Sing Song was able to make people grow closer together – its ability to make strangers into life long friends.
“One of my favorite Sing Song experiences was working on the Optimist staff, and a couple of us were doing the senior act together,” Craig said. “We would work on our production lab trying to get the paper out and run to Sing Song practice over at the Gardner lobby. We would come back and finish the paper and for the rest of the night, we would practice singing our songs, doing choreography while laying out the Optimist.”
After working at the Abilene Reporter Newspaper as a business editor and Hendrick Medical Center as the director of public relations, Craig made his way back to the hill where he served as the director of public relations before joining the student life department.
“It all just kind of slowly evolved,” Craig said. “The first thing I did in the Sing Song office was to be the business manager. I revamped the ticket sales system and introduced the online ticket sales. […] The first thing I did was make it available to buy tickets online and after that, I became the director of the show and oversaw the whole process.”
Though the thoughts of singing flowers and impressive dance numbers are not easy to forget, some of Craig’s memories as director do not bring smiles to the surface. Reflecting on one particular car accident following a dance rehearsal, Craig struggled to find the words to express the sheer horror of identifying one of his students in the trauma center.
“Realizing that one of the students had passed away,” Craig said, “and finding out that I knew their parents from when I was in schoo, was one the most difficult things I had to do – we’re all experiencing life together. That was the hardest thing to go through.”
While Craig continues to reflect on the concept of life, death and the memories that fill us, he is eager to continue with his own life and direct his attention back to one of his first loves – antiquing.
Growing up with parents who saw the opportunity to make a profit from taking old things and making them new again, Craig said his love for antiques began at the age of ten. Wanting to have old Coca-Cola signs hanged up on the walls of his room, Craig said he loved the idea of taking something old and making it new again.
“I slowly began to realize that I could buy and sell things, buy and sell, buy and sell and make some profit for the much bigger thing I wanted,” Craig said. “Before you know it, you’re in the business.”
Owning the Antique Station in downtown Abilene with his wife, Betsy, and other family members, Craig said he is eager to go back and start doing other things in his life. Although Craig will miss the chaos and constant submersion of Sing Song, he said he feels like it’s a good time to make the transition.
“This transition will give me more time to do some restoration work, refurbishing work and approach the business in a more forthright way, which hopefully will be the right move,” Craig said. “This transition allows me to follow another dream, and that’s exciting to me.”
Ending his last term as the man behind the curtain, Craig said Sing Song has been able to show him how valuable life is.
“Many people always ask me ‘why do people like Sing Song so much,’ and my answer is always that it keeps you excited year after year,” Craig said, “because we have a shared experience that gives us the opportunity to make relationships, and that experience is similar and almost the same generation and generation.”