This year’s Sing Song will take on different elements compared to past Sing Songs with regulations concerning COVID-19 with at least six less acts and a different, smaller venue at the Paramount.
The seven hosts and hostesses that will perform this year and be the first group to work around these factors are:
- Cason Lowe, senior communication major from Decatur
- Griffin Jones, senior theatre major from Abilene
- Michael Griffith, senior environmental science major from Schertz
- Maggie Dye, senior advertising/public relations major from Carrollton
- Amen Mugisha, junior psychology major from Kigali, Rwanda
- Marlow Davis, senior advertising/public relations major from Denver City
- Aubrey Cobern, senior art major from Austin
Courtney McGaha, manager and designer of student productions, said these seven were chosen because of the talent they showed and that they have been very flexible with the different plans for this year.
“For selecting them the criteria wasn’t much different,” McGaha said. “We had an audition in October with the plan to get the very best who comes to audition. In fact, we picked seven instead of six this year because they were very talented. The type of people that we picked this year isn’t different from the year’s past, but we were able to work with them and find different genres for them to sing, and they’re really nailing it.”
Because of ongoing renovations to Moody Coliseum and coronavirus regulations, the plans regarding hosts and hostesses had to be changed in different ways.
Regarding the choreography and how they rehearsed, McGaha said that everyone has had to adapt.
“The scope of hosts and hostesses has had to change a lot since our original plans from the Fall,” McGaha said. “But when it started to change we’ve begun to change what the hosts and hostesses can do as well as adapt with what they’ve already been working on. What’s different this year compared to previous years is that there is no dance team; they’re not doing a lot of choreography themselves because of COVID-19 and social distancing, wearing masks and having to focus on singing. This also affected their rehearsing.”
Changes will also be made to the types of songs they will perform, how they perform them and how they will perform with each other.
“This year they are singing to tracks that have been professionally recorded instead of a jazz band since there is no area for one,” McGaha said. “They’re also only singing six songs this year. There are no solos or duets just because of the scope of shifting from our plans last semester to now. But because there are fewer acts it actually ended up working out. Unfortunately for them, it is a smaller act for the hosts and hostesses since it had to be altered for COVID. I think the songs they are singing sound great, they’re doing a great job with them, and they’re getting more rehearsal time for the songs, so they’re very prepared.”
While there are various changes to how the hosts and hostesses will perform that will be different compared to recent productions, such as no solos or duets, Cathryn Coupe, director of student activities & organizations, said they will be singing multiple songs with each other while also including an all-male and an all-female performance.
Since the hosts and hostesses will be singing to prerecorded tracks, McGaha said that it provides them the ability to work with different sounds that work with their abilities.
“This year we really accomplished finding songs that work with the hosts and hostesses,” McGaha said. “With recorded tracks we were able to find songs we might not have been able to do with a jazz band. They’re doing a country song and a 90’s medley with more synthetic sounds, so it shows that they’re able to do songs that have tracks that fit the sound as well as songs that work with their voices.”
She said this also gives them an advantage to rehearsing each piece even though there are pros and cons to prerecorded tracks versus a live jazz band.
“They were able to listen to them much earlier, so they could rehearse with them longer and get familiar with how each track feels; it’ll be consistent every night with each performance, which is great, and it’s going to have the best quality sound,” McGaha said. “When the jazz band is there, it’s very exciting and allows them to feel like they are actually performing, but when they have to rehearse with them, there are some inconsistencies. There are pros and cons to both, but the tracks have given them more time to prepare.”
Because this group has had to face unique challenges, Coupe said that they have shown they work well as a team on and off of the stage.
“This year, we have a great group that understands teamwork is the most important component of Sing Song this year by not just having to listen to each other and harmonize with one another, but to make sure that the show is safe for everyone by wearing their masks and adhering to social distancing during rehearsals,” Coupe said.
These challenges present themselves on and offstage as well, giving the hosts and hostesses different obstacles to overcome when performing.
Coupe said one obstacles for them is figuring how to perform vocally with masks.
“This year, they’ve had to remember that the mics will carry their voices and that they don’t have to push them through their masks,” Coupe said. “I would say that’s the same for upstage as well. We have great sound technicians that will do a good job making each of them sound great.”
Because this will be the first time Sing Song will take place at the Paramount, the production will have a significantly reduced capacity for the audience and a smaller stage for performances.
McGaha said she recognizes this will be a big change, but she’s encouraged that they will still feel like it’s a full production.
“I think when they step on the Paramount stage for the first time they’ll recognize a change in feeling from not being in Moody,” McGaha said. “They realize the venue and the crowd is going to be smaller, and it won’t have that ‘stadium’ feeling, but it will be on a stage and have theatrics and lights; I think it’ll still feel like they are the stars and performers in that moment.”
While each act, group, host and hostesses will be performing in a smaller venue compared to Moody, Coupe said it’s still going to be a great experience.
“It’s still going to seem like a very full show,” Coupe said. “It will be running an hour and 31 minutes not including the intermission time. It’s going to be great, and I think the hosts and hostesses are excited to get back in front of a live audience.”
Regarding his time rehearsing with his fellow hosts and hostesses, Jones said this was something he really needed and was excited for.
“For me, preparing for Sing Song 2021 has been all about breathing in and enjoying each moment,” Jones said. “After so long away from live performance, the opportunity for a new experience with such talented singers and truly wonderful people is just what my soul has needed after the last year.”
Even with the coronavirus pandemic’s changing nature, Mugisha said she feels like there was plenty of time for her to prepare, grow in confidence and appreciate her fellow hosts and hostesses.
“I think that our vocal coach and leaders were very optimistic considering that COVID has made life unpredictable even more,” Mugisha said. “I, however, enjoyed starting early because it prepared each of us to the extent that we can sing each other’s parts. I can not count how many times we have sung these songs and how much I have loved performing with each of my co-hosts.”
This year’s Sing Song will take place Thursday-Sunday, April 22-25 at 7:00 p.m. the first night, 8:00 p.m. the second and third nights and 2:00 p.m. the fourth.