By Tiffany Chea ’17
No sleep ’til Midwood claims victory! On Saturday, March 12, the most anticipated performance of the year took place in the James Madison High School auditorium as the three M’s competed against each other in the Brooklyn SINGS! competition. Sweat, tears and hours of grueling practice paid off as Midwood reigned supreme over Madison and Murrow, taking home the trophy for the first time.
“It feels amazing to finally win the trophy,” said commissioner Liana Porto ’16. “SING has been a part of my life for all four years of Midwood, and winning the trophy for Midwood made my senior year that much sweeter.”
SING! began as a Midwood tradition in the year 1947 by Belle Tillis, and the concept was the basis for the film Sing which debuted in 1989. Student run productions featuring hundreds of high school students spread throughout New York City and are still traditions in many schools today. There are usually multiple SING productions per school as different grades are grouped together for a performance. This year, the senior class won Midwood SING, allowing their show to be judged against the other schools.
Although the graduating class won Midwood SING, members from SoFresh and Junior productions joined forces with their rivals to contribute to the show that went head to head against Murrow and Madison.
“At first, I made a big deal about working with the competition but I got over it quickly. Looking at the big picture, it’s the name Midwood behind it not SoFresh, Juniors or Seniors,” said Demir McRae ’17.
Auditions were held shortly after Midwood SING! to recruit new members for the show. It was not a requirement that you had to be part of a SING! production prior to joining, allowing everyone to have an equal opportunity to be able to represent their school in such an event. One new member, Madina Malik ’16 joined the chorus without having prior experience in SING! and was given only two weeks to fully memorize her part in the show.
“The most difficult part is getting the hang of the dynamic and also getting used to getting surprised with new additions to the program a couple weeks before showtime,” said Malik. “I know many people weren’t happy that chorus had to have choreography, but in the end, the suggestions are only there to help us improve.”
McRae was a band leader for Junior SING and was recently recruited to join the team for Brooklyn SING!. He found it difficult joining the production a few weeks prior to the show date since he had to learn all new music for the performance.
“In Junior SING, we played our songs so much that it became almost automatic. Now I have to ask questions to remember what a certain song sounds like or the order of songs for a particular group,” said McRae.
Along with adding more members to the production, changes were made to the script, dances, and vocal routines to strengthen the show overall. According to Kenny Malasarte ’16, a member of ballroom dance, many parts of the original performance were removed although he would have preferred that they remained.
On the day of the show, tensions were high and the seats of James Madison High School were filled as the audience prepared themselves for three of the largest high schools in Brooklyn to come together to raise money for Relay For Life.
Relay For Life, an organization that hosts events dedicated to uniting individuals to raise money for cancer research and to honor survivors, had a large role in organizing the SING event. Tickets for Brooklyn SING were $15 each and all proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the organization. Money was also raised for this organization through the selling of concessions, t-shirts, raffle tickets and Luminaria bags.
The show began with the performance from the reigning champion, Edward R. Murrow High School. Murrow’s plot centered on a high school that fought against authority when the possibility of their performing arts program being taken away from students arose. With the old principal going into retirement, her non-artistic replacement had another plan in mid. He wanted to take away all the art programs and transform the school into an academic-centered school. Once the students found out, they prepared a sing-off to show the principal that performing arts were essential to the school. The principal was then replaced with a teacher whom the students believed that they could trust, but things went awry as it was found that the trusted teacher had the same motives as the previous principal.
After Murrow’s performance, James Madison High School took the stage. Madison’s plot revolved around an elevator in the school that took them through the centuries. Although the two main characters were advised not to enter the elevator by their grandparents, they disobeyed and traveled back in time. As they experienced what life was like in the past, they encountered famous individuals that once attended their school as well as famous performers of that time period. Conflict arose when the elevator stopped working, causing the characters to be stuck in time. When the characters were able to return to present day, they found a new appreciation for their grandparents and learned to live in the moment.
After Madison and Murrow entertained the audience with their performances, Midwood closed the show. Midwood’s performance followed a woman named Brooklyn, played by Angella Christopher ’16, who traveled to New York from Hawaii in order to find herself. As she made her way through New York, she encountered individuals with a variety of personalities that helped lead her to the one place where she belonged.
Brooklyn met a homeless man while entering the subway station, to whom she expressed that she would love to be on Broadway in the future, while stating the main goal of her trip – to visit Times Square. The homeless character decided to take it upon himself to show her Times Square, but the duo faced many obstacles. Brooklyn met a multitude of street performers, police officers and even a couple that help lead her throughout the city. At the end of the performance, Brooklyn found that the homeless man she had been spending her time with was really a famous producer. She eventually was able to live her dream of performing on Broadway.
As Midwood’s performance came to an end, all participants from the three Brooklyn schools prepared to swarm onto the stage for the long awaited results. While judges were calculating the scores, the schools broke out into a chant, exclaiming the famous lyric “No sleep till Brooklyn!” Along with this chant, each school created a verse to the beat of the song representing their experience and time spent together. Belting these verses helped unite the schools in one moment, creating a memorable event for all.
Midwood’s victory came as a surprise to some audience members and even the performers. Practices preparing for the event were chaotic, but the school was able to overcome all obstacles to form a cohesive performance.
“The actual performance was a complete turnaround from the practices we had, and I feel as if it was due to the kids realizing, ‘Okay, now is our shot and it is time to win,’” said Ms. Marcia Kaufman.
After months of hard work and sacrifice, members of the show were finally able to say that their performance was successful and the senior class is able to leave their school with irreplaceable moments.
“Being in SING has really helped me grow as a person,” said Asia Le ’16. “I loved watching everyone’s growth as dancers, actors, and band members and I wouldn’t have traded my experience for the world. Freshmen – get on that!”
Winning the Brooklyn SING competition has had a large impact on the underclassmen as well.
Fahim Hossain ’19 said, “Inter-Sing was an amazing experience as a freshman. It was great working with such talented musicians, actors, singers and dancers. I got to meet many new people because of Inter-Sing and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything! Knowing that I was apart of the big win for Midwood, makes me want to take the win again for our school next year!”
While the third annual Brooklyn SINGS! competition was a new experience for many, few individuals were able to take part in last years performance. The dedication and effort put into this year’s show made victory even more pleasing for Mohammad Naqvi ’16.
“This was my second InterSING, but for me, this time around meant a lot more,” stated Naqvi. “It was also my last SING and I will always carry this memory in my heart.”
“I’m glad it’s over and it was about time our show won,” said Ms. Kaufman. “Now, we wait until next year!”