Previous Sing winners tackle 2018 as group act

BREAKING OUT OF THEIR SHELLS Phi Kappa Chi and Pi Beta Phi paired together this year for “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The groups are both usually Sing front-runners. Jessica Hubble | Multimedia Editor

By Bailey Brammer | Editor-in-Chief

Members of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and the Phi Kappa Chi fraternity are no strangers to Baylor’s All-University Sing, and they’re also no strangers to winning. Pi Phi took home first place in 2016 for its performance “Meet Me in Ze Alps,” and Phi Chi won first place in 2015 for its act “Dust Bowl Days,” in addition to placing second in 2017 for its performance of “Fool’s Gold.”

An organization that participates in Sing is given the opportunity to pair up with another organization every four years to produce a group act. This year, Pi Phi and Phi Chi have combined their winning experiences to put on the largest Sing act in history, “The Tortoise and the Hare.”

Overton senior Morgan London, Pi Phi Sing chair, said she and the other Sing chairs in her sorority tossed around the idea of partnering with Phi Chi because the two had already paired up in 2014 for the act “Romeo and Juliet.”

“We knew that if we wanted to pair, we could,” London said. “We met with Phi Chi Sing chairs to discuss how the process might work if we did decide to pair and get a feel for how it would be. After the second meeting, we decided that it would be beneficial for both organizations to pair, and here we are now.”

While putting together a Sing act with just one organization can be tough, Fort Worth junior Zach Purczinsky, Phi Chi Sing chair, said producing the largest Sing act in the show’s history with more than 260 participants makes for a challenge of its own kind – a challenge, nonetheless, that nine Sing chairs have happily embraced.

“Wrangling that many people has been a challenge, but since we have nine Sing chairs, it has been manageable,” Purczinsky said. “Triple the people we are used to also means triple the amount of costumes. Since we hand-dyed and hand-altered all of our costumes this year, it was a long, strenuous and stressful costume designing time. It has been rewarding because we are able to pull something off that we have never been able to do before.”

The Texas Zeta chapter of Pi Phi at Baylor began as the Alpha Omega club, which was one of the participating groups in the first All-University Sing in 1953. The club was the first act to take the stage in Waco Hall and performed three songs: “I Believe,” “It’s You That I Love, Just You” and “Baylor Forevermore.”

Each Sing act must also overcome the hurdle of choosing a theme. London said when the groups first met, they tossed around ideas, but they didn’t finalize their theme until they had confirmed they would be partnering.

London also said there are certain aspects of the performance that Pi Phi and Phi Chi do completely differently, but that they’ve made their partnership work to produce an act that everyone involved can be proud of.

“We have made it a point to keep all traditions active and available to the entire group throughout the process,” London said. “There have also been times where one group’s strategy works better than the other’s, so we change things up so that it’s most beneficial. We also have collaborated and made unique decisions since our situation is different from any in the past.”

Aside from the challenges of producing an act of such volume, Purczinsky said he’s seen passion from both Phi Chi and Pi Phi, and that he’s confident their act will wow the audience.

“We definitely had more involvement from both groups this year,” Purczinsky said. “Our groups told themselves that we’re going to do something special. They saw the potential and immediately ‘hopped’ on board … win or lose, I can’t wait to perform for my fellow students and alumni and do something that I love.”

It is typical for only one or two partner acts to take the stage each year. In 2017, Alpha Chi Omega and Pi Kappa Phi paired up for “The Art of Espionage,” and while the group did not place in the top three, it did move on to Pigskin Revue.

“The Tortoise and the Hare” is the only group act this year. Phi Kappa Chi and Pi Beta Phi took the stage Thursday night to debut the largest group act in Sing’s history and will be performing at 6:30 p.m. today and Saturday, as well as on Feb. 22, 23 and 24.