Behind the scenes of All-University Sing

Behind the scenes of Pi Kappa Chi's University Sing act with a large handmade backdrop of a mountain scene. Photo courtesy of Nick Hurt.

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

While the dazzling acts of All-University Sing captivate audience members with vocals and dance skills, behind the stage, Waco Hall professional staff members and student workers manage and produce the lighting, audio, visual and overall performances.

Waco Hall director Joshua Gilliam explained that the staff begins working with the Sing chairs of the competing organizations months prior to the show.

“The Sing process starts in May of the previous year,” Gilliam said. “Our staff gets involved from the get-go and begins getting more heavily involved in September when we start talking about lighting for the show, props and audio.”

In the month leading up to Sing, Waco Hall hosts open-stage practices where each group can come at their assigned time and practice their act on stage.

“We have a pretty intensive four-week process,” Gilliam said. “They will get a designated period of time for them to come on the stage — just them with no equipment and no effects — to have open-stage time to work on spacing and choreography and other things like that.”

Beginning in February, groups participating will have the opportunity to come to the performance hall to schedule and program their lighting and audio cues with the staff.

“They get an hour and a half to create all the lighting looks for their show,” Gilliam said. “Rehearsals take place from five to midnight. We’ll see four groups a night. The next week after, we’ll add vocalists and audio.”

Following the weeks of preparation, the Waco Hall staff and students will be in charge of producing each act at every performance on both weekends.

Frisco senior Elizabeth Anderson said she works as a stage hand and crew leader to smoothly produce the acts she is assigned with her coworkers.

“I am the stage manager for Crew A,” Anderson said. “We have two crews for every show, so Crew A has a total of nine acts, and for those nine acts, I am in charge of the score, lighting effects and rail cues.”

Each crew member has been assigned a task to complete during the show, such as managing the props or running the rail cues.

Dallas junior Logan Blum said he runs the rail cues, managing the curtains for the acts.

“For Sing, I love seeing all the acts — especially for me being on the rail, it’s kind of a tradition for the people on the rail to dance along with the sororities when they are performing their acts,” Blum said.

Katy junior Morgan Ochsner said working behind the stage seems chaotic, but the production teams stay on top of everything so that the acts run smoothly.

“Every act is utter chaos backstage, and it’s really hard to make sure you know what’s going on and that everybody on stage has that same sense of knowledge of what’s happening because it’s so fast-paced,” Ochsner said.

Gilliam said the staff has looked forward to putting on this production after missing the in-person performance last year due to the pandemic.

“There is a big desire to come back into the theater for shows for this,” Gilliam said. “It’s needed, and people are excited about it.”