Leaving a Legacy: Generations of Theta family pass down Sing traditions

By Brooke Hill | Copy Editor

Baylor is a school of family traditions, and All-University SING marks one of the most elaborate of them all.

For Dallas junior Madison Wachel, Sing has been passed down in her family through generations; her grandmother, mother, aunt and older sister have all participated at one point or another.

“Sing has just always been a part of my life,” Wachel said. “I grew up coming to Pigskin for homecoming, and then I would always come down for Sing, especially when my sister was in it, and she was a chair. I kind of just grew up watching the show. It’s really special that now I get to perform in something my mom was in and my friends’ moms were in.”

Madison’s older sister Meredith Wachel said Sing was integral to her Baylor experience and that it allowed her to connect with students that performed in the past and would perform in the future.

“Sing is kind of the thread that holds my Baylor story together,” Meredith Wachel said. “From the first memories of Baylor to all the time I spent in college practicing and planning Sing acts, to the times I now come back to Baylor, it’s what connects most of my Baylor experiences together.”

Sing is unique in that it is an event that almost every student on campus has a connection to, whether they are personally in an act, know someone in an act or just enjoy watching the show.

“I think it’s an important tradition because it’s something that unites so many Baylor students together. Sing is an experience that’s similar for all of its participants across many generations and groups. It is one of the experiences that was the same for my mom and aunt in the ’80s, and for my sister and me now.”

Meredith Wachel participated in Kappa Alpha Theta’s 2012 performance “What Goes Bump in the Night” and 2013 performance “Go for the Gold” as a backdrop chair, whose job is overseeing the painting and creation of the backdrop and props that accompany the dancing on stage.

Madison Wachel has been a Sing chair for Kappa Alpha Theta for two years. For its 2017 act, “Miss Spectacular,” she was the backdrop chair.

“I think my favorite Sing memory is probably making Pigksin last year with all of my Sing chairs,” Madison Wachel said, “watching our hard work [pay] off and hearing our name get called, because they called our name first.”

For Theta’s 2018 act “Alley KATs,” Madison Wachel is the choreography chair, which means she oversaw the creation of all of the dance moves and formations. She said Sing chairs begin discussing the following year’s act almost immediately after Sing comes to an end, submitting their themes and song preferences no later than the due date in May. Once Sing season comes around, the Sing chairs dedicate countless hours each week, working on their respective jobs.

“I don’t think I would have been as involved in it if I didn’t have the legacy for it, just because it is such a time commitment. It’s special to me, so that’s why I’m OK with the time commitment,” Madison Wachel said.

Madison’s mother Linda and her sister Meredith’s history with Sing set them up to encourage Madison in a unique way.

“It’s really cool to have that support system because I think my mom and my sister really understand what’s going on and how much work goes into it,” Madison Wachel said.

In addition to participating in Sing during her time at Baylor, Linda Wachel is now able to relive her experiences as she watches her girls perform.

“It’s fun to hear the concepts for the themes in the early stages of planning and to be trusted to keep the secret,” Linda Wachel said. “Then to watch these ideas develop over months and months of preparation is truly fun. Seeing my girls in their element, doing what they love, is the very best memory a mom can have.”

Over the years, Linda Wachel said Sing has progressively improved in content and in size. She noted that the stage makeup has especially taken a turn for the better. When she participated in 1982 act, “Desperado,” and 1983 act, “Waiting for the Train,” the performers would draw fake eyelashes on their faces using eyeliner, whereas now, performers are able to simply purchase fake eyelashes from the store.

“I think the Sing acts get more and more professional each year,” Linda Wachel said. “I would say the process seems to be more organized now… the meetings, the budget, the guidelines, all seem to be more formalized, similar to that of a true Broadway show.”

Linda Wachel said Sing provided her family members with the opportunity to continue to show off their love for dancing and performing during their college years.

“Sing is special to me because it is something my whole family enjoys,” Linda Wachel said. “My girls and I were all active in drill team in high school, so Sing provided an opportunity for us to dance and perform in a college setting. It was really neat to see both of my daughters, Meredith and Madison, share their love for Sing and find something that they are so passionate about.”

Madison and Meredith Wachel’s grandmother, Kay Gean Whitaker, performed in Sing in the late 1950s as a member of Delta Alpha Pi, the local club that later became Kappa Alpha Theta. Though Whitaker passed away 10 years ago, one of Whitaker’s friends recently reminisced with Linda Wachel about the acts they had participated in together, such as “Annie Get Your Gun” and “South Pacific.”

“When you think about the acts that my mother participated in, they used to just re-enact parts of a professional show rather than start from scratch and develop a theme or concept with a variety of songs and dance moves like we will see this week,” Linda Wachel said. “Today’s Sing performances require so much more creativity.”

The legacy that Whitaker started for her family members still holds a special place in their hearts today.

“I know my mom would be thrilled to have had the opportunity to see both of her granddaughters singing and dancing and following in her footsteps on the Sing stage,” Linda Wachel said.

Linda and Meredith Wachel said they are looking forward to seeing all of Madison’s hard work pay off in Baylor’s 2018 production of SING.