By Keturah Raymond ’15 & Charlynn Trish Ben ’15
It was the battle of the M’s. The night was cold and dreary, but the heat was on in the Edward R. Murrow High School Joseph Anzalone Theatre on March 8, as they battled it out in Brooklyn SING. At this event to aid the fight for cancer, Midwood, Madison and Murrow High School participated in the competition, with all the proceeds of the show going to the American Cancer Society.
Mr. Joe Gillete, one of the main organizers of the show from the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Marine Park Relay for Life team, opened the competition with a speech on “The Top 10 Reasons Why Brooklyn Sings.” Number one on that list was the white glow sticks in luminaria bags attached to each seat. “These lights signify treasured friendships,” said Mr. Gillete as he held his own up.
In a touching ceremony, survivors of cancer stood up with their glow sticks in the air. Then those who had a parent or family member with cancer, those with a teacher and those who knew someone battling cancer. The auditorium was filled with hundreds of white glow sticks illuminating the dark auditorium.
Midwood’s own Domini Krol ’15, participant in Midwood SING, sang the national anthem. She said she felt honored to open the show and that Relay for Life meant a lot for her since her father passed away from cancer.
Ms. Marcia Kaufman followed shortly with a history of SING chorus, a competition that originated in Midwood. Ms. Kaufman recited her “Ode To Bella” a poem dedicated to the late Bella Tillis, creator of SING, who passed away last year.
“Tonight we’re here to celebrate what Mrs. Tillis created. On this very important date, her famous last words to us: enunciate,” said Ms. Kaufman. “Bella Tillis passed away in April 15, 15 days shy of her 100th birthday. She was the one who started SING, and Midwood has dedicated their show to her. Rest in peace Bella.”
With the audience’s emotions stirred, Brooklyn SING started off with a bang with James Madison High School’s Don’t Stop Believing.
Madison’s performance revolved around the plot of a toymaker forced to shut down his toy factory because modern day technology is bringing his business down; however, his toys think otherwise, and they try to convince the toy maker to never stop believing in them. The band opened up with a spunky 70s rock and roll medley, and the show was accompanied by songs like ‘I Will Survive’ and ‘Jail House Rock’.
The second M, Midwood, opened with a four-man band disguised as the living dead with skeletal makeup painted on their faces. Like, Madison, the band gave a taste of what the mood of the performance, playing darker tones such as The White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army”. The plot of the performance, The Reunion of the Forgotten, revolved around a group of Midwood students who reunite at Pinegrove Inn ten years after their graduation. As their reunion progresses, each student remembers what they have done in the past and reunite with someone whom they have totally forgotten. The show included dances ranging from Ballroom to African and an “undead” step team.
“I think our performance was really good. It wasn’t perfect; there were a few things that we did wrong. For example my guitar strap got caught in the wire and the keyboard wasn’t working in the beginning,” said Leonidas Eracleous ’14, member of the Midwood band. “The show turned out pretty well I think that the audience loved it.”
Murrow presented their Wizards of Murrowwarts, a Harry Potter spin-off about a new wizard to murrowwarts who threatens to take the spot of the most popular wizard there. Murrow utilized a full orchestra that did renditions of popular songs such as Danza Kuduro and the famous Harry Potter theme song. They also steered away from the traditional structure of SING with a full cast that also sang and danced, much like a musical, instead of a separate chorus and group of dancers.
Despite the differences in the approaches of the schools, they all had one goal: to have fun and to support the wonderful cause they are contributing to.
“Friday, we did rehearsals with all the kids and you’d think there was this great rivalry but Murrow was rooting for Madison and Madison rooting for Midwood and so on,” said Mr. Gillete, “Even though it’s a competition – it’s everybody all together”
With Madison collecting the most money, all schools together were able to raise about $20,000. Mr. Gillete expressed his enthusiasm about the show before it was even over.
“The outcome is already here because all the kids are here. They’ve raised money ahead of time, about $20,000 so far,” said Mr. Gillete, “my outcome is here already, that there’s a winner for the show is not an outcome. That’s just extra credit, a motivation for the kids to get even more into it.”
Anxiety was running high as all the performers gathered around the stage waiting for one thing: the results. The audience was getting jittery as well. Distant chatter rose from the students, until one student from Midwood shouts out “You can’t beat the Wood, You can’t beat the wood!” A flurry of voices prodded the coordinators to try to cease the anxious teenagers. An envelope was passed to Mr. Gillete: Madison won best Costume, Midwood best Banner, but the crowning winner of the first Brooklyn Sing was awarded to Murrow High School.
“It was a great challenge to have all three M schools compete with one another,” said Ms. Kaufman.
The three schools definitely showed their best performances and their best selves. Members from different schools congratulated each other with bright smiles that truly showed the real reason why they performed; to have fun.