By Ashley Davis
Nothing consumes and defines Baylor life in the spring semester so much as All-University Sing, a marathon of Broadway-style shows put on by Sing Alliance, Baylor Chamber of Commerce and various Greek organizations every year in front of family and alumni from all over the country as part of a 61-year tradition.
When the curtain rises, all the audience sees is the glare of stage lights against dramatic make-up, flashy costumes and newly painted props. This year, 18 acts are performing, including paired acts and Sing Alliance, which consists of students who are not involved in Greek organizations but still want to participate.
This event is perhaps the most prolific tradition in university history, but the complexity of such a large gathering can be lost on the audience viewing the final product.
The long process of production begins with the election of Sing chairs. Each Sing chair is appointed by their respective organizations soon after the previous year’s Sing premier event.
The Sing chair is in charge of organizing a theme, designing a backdrop and props with group members as well as planning the choreography and music selections for the act. Some organizations design their own backdrops and props while others commission art or other special effects.
Fraternities and sororities have been known to hire older members who have participated in Sing or professional choreographers. The groups are given a budget from Student Activities to fund their production.
Throughout the spring and summer. Sing chairs plan and organize every minute detail of the act and in the fall, practices begin. The groups are expected to have the entire act together by November to be reviewed by the Student Productions Committee.
Full technical rehearsals begin the week before Sing.
Regular practices are held throughout the school year while technical rehearsals involve the coordination between all of the groups to fine-tune soundchecks, microphone placements and the timing between each act.
The technical rehearsals ensure that the show as a whole will run smoothly.
Student Productions selects the judges for Sing based on their involvement or knowledge of theater, dance, music and campus life/student administration. The judges must also have never witnessed Sing before.
There are 12-16 judges each year and they grade each performance based on: entertainment value (30 points), musical quality (20 points), choreography (20 points), creativity (15 points), and theme development (15 points).
Katy senior, Aimen Majeed, said Sing is one of the biggest amateur productions in the country on the university level. Majeed is a member of Student Productions committee and a Sing act producer for Alpha Tau Omega and Phi Kappa Chi fraternities.
he said preparation for Sing takes a massive amount of energy and time from everyone involved, but the Sing chairs take the worst punches.
“It’s a testament to how dedicated the members of Sing are. We don’t get scholarships and we don’t get paid, but we are at every rehearsal and every meeting. Sing unifies us into a family within each fraternity and sorority,” Majeed said. “I think being Sing chair is one of the hardest jobs to have. But the legacy they leave is very important to Baylor tradition.”
Majeed worked in the ticket office in the Bill Daniel Student Center last year and could often be seen selling will-call tickets for Sing long before the event.
Though Majeed is a biology pre-med major, as a film and digital media minor, she said she was fascinated by everything that went into Sing and the hustle and bustle of backstage. Last spring, she decided to apply for the Student Productions Committee and landed an interview.
“They were looking for people who were passionate about Sing and other Baylor traditions. It’s very important for the people in StuPro to have respect for the traditions and honor the secrecy,” she said.
Majeed said a major part of the Sing tradition is to keep the groups’ themes for their acts secret until the premiere. Each organization spends months rehearsing and fine-tuning every element of their act, making the final unveiling all the more surprising for the audience.
As a producer, Majeed said she has helped her groups with various aspects of the entertainment –making process. The producers coordinate with the Sing chairs and give helpful suggestions about themes, props, special effects, music and costumes.
The producers are there to ensure the groups follow the performance regulations outlined by Student Productions, make sure the acts are Baylor appropriate and that deadlines are met as well providing support for the Sing chair during practices.
Austin senior and Phi Kappa Chi Sing chair Chris Watkins said the event has been a major part in his life ever since he was appointed. Watkins said he got involved in Pigskin, the homecoming performance of the top eight acts from Sing, during his sophomore year.
He found he loved the choreography and was good at it. This, above all, induced him to become more involved.
“I played baseball in high school. I wasn’t involved in any kind of theater or dance,” Watkins said. “After I did Pigskin I decided to apply for Sing chair and I got it.”
As the Phi Kappa Chi Sing chair, Watkins can attest to the hardships and rewards these organizations get from Sing.
Watkins said the hardest thing about leading his organization is getting a group of guys motivated to sing and dance on stage when they aren’t used to it. However, Watkins said the group’s unifying values always help the show come together.
“Our motto is ‘One body, one life,’ and we try our best to incorporate our Christian values into the act as well as an entertaining show,” Watkins said.