Show choir season kicks off

By COLIN CAMERON,

With the kick-off of competition season just days away, Petal High School show choir members are warming up their vocal chords in preparation for a slam-packed 2018 season.

Show choir is basically competitive chorale singing on steroids, though that description only scratches the surface.

According to Petal show choir director Shanna Luckett, show choir is an athletic event that combines the physical demands of intense choreography with the mental discipline of vocal singing.

Petal show choir features two different groups that involve 111 students collectively. The “Innovations” is an all-female group that includes 48 students, and the “Soundsations” is a mixed group with 63 students involved. Additionally, there are 11 band members and 10 crew members across both groups.

Luckett explained that there are three separate facets that are vital to the overall production- the singer/dancers, the musicians and the stage crew.

The singer/dancers are the individuals that are on stage performing, and are what the audience sees most during the performance.  The musicians are behind the stage and provide the accompaniment and “musical drive” for the show. The stage crew moves props and sets up the stage for each performance.

This year, the Soundsations’ show is based around the idea of magic, in which the group’s song selection, choreography and theatrics help to create an overall mysterious thematic atmosphere.

Each year, the shows for both groups are constructed from top to bottom around Luckett’s creative vision.

“The movie “Now You See Me” was very influential for the mixed show,” Luckett said. “My husband and I were watching the movie and started throwing ideas out about how we could make a show choir show about magic.”

She explained the task ultimately had its challenges, considering that the relatively broad idea of “magic” has been used in other shows before. However, she believes that she and the group were able create something entirely unique with it.

“We wanted to make sure and use different songs for our show this year and try out some different tricks,” she said. “However, a good magician never reveals their secrets.”

On the other hand, the Innovations’ show is entitled “Something Wild,” and embodies a fierce, jungle-like thematic presence.

Luckett explained that this particular type of theme is considerably unique territory for an all-female classification, though the group tackles it head on.

“We knew we didn’t want to perform a ‘girly’ show like the past two years,” she said. “This was something completely different and very challenging.”

Luckett explained that groups from other schools are consistently stepping up their game. Therefore, Petal show choirs have been working diligently for months in preparation for the competition.

Students from both groups began learning choreography in October. Since then, they have spent several hours a week in afterschool rehearsals.

However, the long hours spent preparing are all worth it once the students take the stage at a competition.

“Competition days are very long but so much fun,” Luckett said. “Students have the opportunity to be on stage performing and doing what they love, as well as meeting others from across the country that have the same interests.”

Additionally, Luckett said that it is the friendships students develop with each other and the overall experiences they share that make the hard work truly worthwhile.

“These students have friends that they will have for years to come, and some pretty special memories that will last a lifetime,” she said. “Once students graduate and reflect back on high school, they will remember performing on stage and the feeling it brings, as well as the trips and places they visit throughout high school.”

While both groups hope to bring home as many trophies as possible this season, winning is not the only objective. For Luckett, excellence is about consistent improvement.

“I want the students to perform to the best of their ability at all times, and to make sure that each performance is better than the last one,” she said.

Petal show choirs are scheduled to compete against groups from all across the country at a national competition in Orlando this March.

“I’m excited to see our students compete alongside these groups that have been extremely successful in the past,” Luckett said.

Though Petal has stacked up well against other schools from throughout the country in the past, it is difficult to predict how well the groups will perform this year due to the incredibly diverse styles of performances, according to director Amy Yanes.

“Different regions of the country perform show choir differently,” Yanes said. “California schools are very theatrical, the Midwest (schools) are very thematic and the South does a combination of both, so it’s really like comparing apples to oranges.”

“When groups of high caliber compete, the judges’ opinion tend to be the deciding factor for who wins,” she added.

Catch Petal’s show choirs performing locally on Feb. 23-24 at the annual Petal Invitational.