New stage, new stars

The annual show choir Winter Swing Show is just around the corner, and a lot of work has been put into the upcoming performances.

Standing in a dazzling costume, with dramatic makeup on your face and hair slicked back, you wait off stage. While butterflies dance in your stomach, you look off into the crowd and wait to hear your cue. All performers, from West High to Broadway, embrace these emotions every time they step onto the stage.

On Dec. 10, the show choirs will be lighting up the stage at the new Hancher Auditorium. This once in a lifetime opportunity has proved to be costly. Students involved have been raising funds by selling fruit, apparel, merchandise, advertisements and shoutouts for students in the program. Showtime participant Karissa Burkhardt ’20 believes it will be worth the effort.

“I have always wanted to perform [at Hancher], so now that I actually have the opportunity to it’s really exciting . . . I’ve been watching show choirs since I was little, so I have always looked forward to being in one.”

When deciding the venue of the annual Winter Swing Show, a lot was to be considered.

I don’t think there’ll ever be that initial shock of going into a space and saying, ‘Oh my goodness this space is beautiful’ because once you perform there, hopefully you’ll be ready for anything.”

— Jeff Knutson

“Once we walked into the space, saw how beautiful it was, thought about what a great opportunity it would be for the students and figured it would work financially, it was kind of a done deal,” said Jeff Knutson, the director of Showtime.

“It’s great because there’s really not a bad seat in Hancher . . . After we perform at Hancher, there won’t be a space that we perform in that will be better. I don’t think there’ll ever be that initial shock of going into a space and saying, ‘Oh my goodness this space is beautiful’ because once you perform there, hopefully you’ll be ready for anything.”

The amount of work that goes into a single show choir performance is extensive, usually starting in January with music selections. After the music is decided, it is arranged into sheet music for the show choir to sing and the band to play. Next comes performer auditions to be accepted into one of West’s three show choirs. Once selections have been made,  participants attend a  choreography camp during the first week of Aug where the students are taught the dance moves by Kevin Chase and Nick Quamme, the choreographers. After that, the vocal teachers help perfect the choreography and teach the students the music. Costumes are ordered and fitted, and finally, a show is born.

“I would say a really substantial amount of time goes into making the shows happen. It’s the same with all the show choirs,” Knutson said. “It’s a lot of time for the students, but making sure they’re ready is the important thing.”

You can catch the show choir’s’ debut performance at Hancher on Dec. 10.

“I hope that people are getting their tickets already because they’re starting to sell out— I still have to get my ticket— but really it’s going to be a great show and really exciting,” Knutson said. You can come and support your peers by purchasing your tickets at the Hancher ticket booth or online through the Hancher website.

Alex Granfield ‘17,  a senior member of Varsity show choir Good Time Company ,  has enjoyed show choir throughout his high school years.

“Performing at the swing shows is always a good time. Everyone is really supportive of each other, and it’s so fun watching your friends perform and perform for them,” Granfield said. “They’re such awesome performances because everyone’s energy is so high and we all give it everything we have.”

The show choirs have expanded over the past years and continue to encourage new members to sign up. David Haas, the director of Good Time Company, believes choir is something all students should consider.

“If you feel like choir is something that would benefit your life, sign up for it. Not everybody that comes into choir is a fantastic singer. A lot of the time it takes time and experience to develop your voice bit by bit. Learning how to read music and becoming a musician day by day is what it’s really all about,” Haas said. “Our goal for all of our choirs, not just show choirs, is to provide opportunities so that when you graduate you’ll be able to look back and say ‘Wow, that was really cool.’ We want to provide lots of opportunities for students to look back on their memories in choir and feel they were really special.”