Sing Song act directors Travis Mack and Sloan Polvado decided to turn a joke into reality when they took on the job of directing the Senior Pilots.
Polvado and Mack have been involved in a Sing Song act each year, though neither of them admit to musical experience. For their first introduction to Sing Song, they were put in the same act.
“Freshman year, I was on leadership with Sloan but in charge of set,” Mack said. “We thought we were so good. We were like, ‘We’re gonna win.’ And then we didn’t.”
Their freshman act won second place, second only to the seniors.
“We got beat by the seniors, so that’s why we had always joked like, ‘Oh, it’d be so fun if our senior year we got to make the freshmen feel how we feel,’” Polvado said.
The Senior Pilot act was the design of the original directors, Marlee Painter and Jessica Roff. When they had to step down for unexpected reasons, Mack wasted no time calling Polvado.
“Literally a week before Sing Song was supposed to start, I’m in ‘Frozen 2’ and he’s texting me, ‘Hey, I need to talk to you, I need to talk to you,’” Polvado said. “I was like what is going on? And he was like, ‘Okay what are the chances that I’d convince you to direct the senior act.’”
Polvado, already committed to assisting with the Ko Jo Kai Sing Song act, spent some time thinking about accepting the offer.
“I was prayerful about it for a few days and I had called the senior director from last year because I’m good friends with her, and she was like, ‘Sloan, you have to do it,’” Polvado said. “But honestly, if I were to agree to do this last minute with anyone, [Travis is] honestly the only person I would’ve said yes to. I’ve known him for all of college and depend on him and trust him.”
The previous directors had already prepared the act. The theme was picked, the lyrics were written and the costumes were designed.
“We just had to make it happen,” Polvado said. “It was interesting to take someone else’s vision and make it our own. I love the theme, I love the lyrics and felt really confident in it, so that made it really easy.”
Mack and Polvado picked up the act with about 85 senior participants.
“All these people signed up expecting different directors, and so they’ve shown us a lot of grace,” Polvado said.
Polvado said the mix of participants are split between never having participated in Sing Song before and have a big enthusiasm for their senior-year-last-act, or they love Sing Song so much they are participating in multiple acts.
“It’s just meant a lot to see the amount of people who are literally willing to do Sing Song practice five nights a week, on top of their club stuff,” Polvado said.
Mack said one of the biggest challenges of stepping into this position has been their lack of musical knowledge and experience.
“Just being able to hear problems in the music, but not knowing how to fix it,” Mack said. “Because that’s not me at all. I know nothing about music. I can’t read sheet music. I can match pitch and that’s it.”
Polvado, though involved in an on-campus a cappella group, said neither of them are “the most musical” so trying to explain music to almost 100 people is really interesting.
“Our section leaders have been extremely helpful and they’ve had experience doing this for years in their club acts too,” Polvado said. “They definitely knew what they were doing. We had a very stacked group of section leaders and this literally could not have happened without them.”
The section leaders that assist with teaching the sheet music for the act to the different vocal divisions are Mitchell Bradford, Kellum Harris, Cailin McDaniel, Mikaela Clinton, Chels Derbyshire, Ella Wasser and Cassie Dale. Polvado said it’s been a team effort.
“We told them from the beginning, ‘Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you hear something wrong, say it. That’s what’s going to help us most,’” Mack said.
Mack and Polvado agree that their pilots have a chance of winning the show.
“We definitely have a chance, but, honestly, I will say that every act could win, like there’s not an act where we’re like, ‘Oh we definitely have them beat,’” Polvado said. “Everyone is so good this year.”
This year “Class Trade Night,” a Sing Song tradition last practiced in the 60’s, was brought back. For Class Trade Night, all the class acts meet and perform for one another.
“So we’ve already seen all of the other acts,” Polvado said. “And that was fun because everyone hyped each other up.”
Mack said the performances also gave them motivation in realizing that everyone else was really good. The seniors practice only twice a week for a total of four hours a week.
“Which is crazy because you’re supposed to practice eight,” Polvado said. “That was definitely a challenge because we literally had to learn all of our music in three practices and all of our choreography in two practices. And then we blinked and it was our Moody night and we were still learning half the choreography. So I think we’ve definitely felt a little behind from the other class acts, especially freshmen because that’s all they’re doing.”
Though, Polvado said since they have people that for them this is their fourth go-around, they already know how to do the Sing Song face and basic choreography moves. She said this has helped the process to go a lot faster.
“Travis and I, definitely have a better idea of what we’re doing than we did freshman year,” Polvado said.
Polvado is mainly in charge of onstage directing and Mack has come up with and taught the choreography. Mack also comes in at the last song to direct onstage.
The team agrees the act has a mixture of funny, entertaining and sentimental affects. Mack warns there are some really cheesy lines.
“My favorite part is when we sing Survivor by Destiny’s Child and it talks about a bunch of ACU references,” Mack said. “It’s definitely one of those acts that is funny and cute.”
Besides the act itself, Polvado said the “team chemistry” is what makes the act special.
“It’s been sweet to see how excited people have become about the act, because at first we didn’t really know if we would be any good or what was happening,” Polvado said. “I think the more and more we practice, the more people we’ve gotten to know.”
Mack said directing for the senior pilots is just really fun.
“Everyone is so flexible,” Mack said. “I find myself just laughing more.”
Polvado said she hopes to have the audience laughing with them.