AXO builds act around ‘Prayer’

By Candy Rendon

Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) is livin’ on prayer this year for its Sing performance.

“The song ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ has been a part of the act since before our theme was decided,” AXO chair and Heath senior Brooke Buchanan said. “One of our Sing chairs kept pushing to have the song, no matter the theme. It started out as a way to humor her, but we ended up building an act around this song.

Buchanan said that each song in the act contributed to AXO’s overall choreography.

“Also, our act, ‘Juke Box Heroes,’ is the story of a garage band that makes it to the top,” Buchanna said. “Starting with a rough rehearsal of Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of ’69,’ the band plays ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ as their first gig, struggles with mediocrity to Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again,’ and finishes on top with a rock concert performing Boston’s ‘Rock & Roll Band.’ It’s rock, but it’s still Sing.”

Buchannan said her role as Sing Chair for AXO helped keep her involved with nearly every aspect of the performance, but also brought her in touch with her sorority sisters.

“We as Sing chairs set out to create an act tailored to the fun-loving personality of Alpha Chi,” Buchanan said. “Our goal was to build an act that allowed our girls to have as much fun as possible while still putting on an exciting show. Sing week is now here, and we think we have achieved that.”

The sorority has five Sing chairs — four seniors and one junior. The variety in majors within AXO is clear, including majors in electrical engineering, film and digital media, biology/pre-med, social work and finance. Yet since March 2011, regardless of what they’re studying with the rest of their time, they have all had one thing in common: they have been practicing for their Sing performance.

“We have been tirelessly pouring our heart and soul into the act,” Buchanan said, “aiming to have timeless songs, exciting choreography, and lots of energy to leave the audience on the edge of their seats. Who knows if this will happen, but we know each and every girl will have so much fun and leave their hearts on the stage.

“Oh yeah, we’ve definitely worked really hard these last couple of week to clean our choreography. We know our theme and music is great, but our dancing needs to be sharp if we want to go to Pigskin,” Newburgh, Ind., senior Abigail Risner said.

Longview resident Meredith Bartlemay has played a role as one of the group’s Sing chairs this year.

“I think this act truly encompasses who AXO is,” Bartlemay said. “And we are a fun group of women. and you will see that in our performances. We want the audience to have just as much fun watching it as we have performing it.”

AXO has been carefully allocating its practice time as well, artfully balancing its need to have some of its different groups practicing two hours a night during the week while emphasizing weekend practices during February.

Risner gives a glimpse of AXO’s journey to the actual performance, pointing out that the divisions within practices were important.

“We have had separate band practices for the band members not only for vocals, but also to practice the acting and performance side of looking and sounding like a rock band,” Risner said. “Our specialty dancers have worked so hard with their prop dance and the lyrical section during ‘Here I Go Again,’ and it has turned out to be such an interesting dynamic in an act about rock ’n’ roll. They are all amazing.”

“But has definitely not been perfect,” Risner said. “We’ve had several obstacles with costumes — from wrong designs to all XL pants to invoicing issues — and have dealt with them one by one, most recently by spending a few nights working until 3 a.m. altering and fixing costumes; however, all these problems led to solutions that look far better on stage than our original plan.”

The Sing chairs spent each weekend during January in a different city in Texas. Props were completed in Pflugerville, and their backdrop was completed within two weekends, one spent in Dallas and the other in Robinson.

“We got a lot done on those little trips,” Risner added. “But the Sing chairs were able to become closer friends and create lots of fun memories. We are told by Student Productions to make sure we make time to eat, sleep, and laugh during this busy time. Sleep doesn’t always happen, and lunch gets thrown to the wayside every now and then, but if there is one thing we do all the time, it’s laugh.”

Risner cited her appreciation to the chairs and the rest of the women.

“Our ability to enjoy ourselves and ‘go with the flow’ has created the perfect storm of Sing chairs in that we never have arguments or get too stressed out,” Risner stated. “We are a cohesive unit, and this allows us to focus all our energy into making this act the best that it can be.”