SING!: The Aftermath of Catastrophy

As this year’s SING! productions come to an end with SFV’s show, Catastrophy, claiming the win, many involved feel a mixture of elation and sadness. For the seniors, this is their last year participating in SING! and it’s most definitely a sentimental time to reflect on the past four years. I was able to talk to Isabella Kwasnik, who played the antagonist in SFV’s Catastrophy, about her experience being involved in SING! and what its meant to her.

What made you join SING! freshman year?

“To be quite honest, I don’t even remember why I joined SING!. I heard an announcement at the beginning of the school year, and, since the few people I knew were trying out, I went out on a whim and tested my luck too. My SING! career nearly ended the same day that announcement aired though, because I nearly ran out of the auditorium after hearing all the incredibly talented people act and sing. If I have anyone to thank for staying in that room, it’s Viktoriya Opsha; she encouraged me to stay and sing, and her encouragement ultimately lead to my first lead role.”

What’s your best memory participating in SING! throughout these four years?

  “It’s hard to narrow down for years of memories to just two, so I would have to pick a memory from freshman year and from senior year. The Saturday night of my freshman year, after we put on our last performance, our entire cast sat in the dance gym and made speeches about how much we loved SING and loved each other. Up to that point, I kind of feared the upperclassmen we worked with at the time, but, that night, something changed as we all became friends.  impact it had on their lives was simply inspiring; I knew in that moment I wanted to become an upperclassman younger students looked up to, a friend they could talk to both in and out of SING!. I love our freshmen, and truly feel as if that goal has been achieved.  As for this year, when I, alongside Joanna Hayes, was a lyricist, we taught our finale lyrics in the dance gym. They were definitely sentimental, and I was specifically expecting seniors to recognize that. But, when we sang those words, freshman actually started crying. To see their love for sing, a love that we helped cultivate, was simply magical; to hear them singing those words back to us made me cry too; being a lyricist was definitely the most rewarding aspect of being in SING!”

What was it like as an upperclassmen helping to actually create the show?

As opposed to simply getting handed a script as I was in freshman, sophomore, and junior year, I was part of the collaborative process that let me help make up the characters in our show, and gave me time to relate to them before bringing them onstage. Being a head writer involved in the actual creation of the show was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. It definitely extended my level of responsibility in the show, but it was definitely worth it. Writers meetings were perhaps the most stressful part of the SING! process: seemingly endless hours spent brainstorming ideas for plots and morals was demoralizing; there were so many points where we just wanted to scrap everything and start from scratch. Thankfully we didn’t do that, and ended up producing a hilarious, flexible script that changed up until the week of the show. Very rarely is a SING! script ever perfect, so it is kind of fascinating to watch it evolve from the end of the summer until the night of the show. I always felt emotionally connected to our script, but, only at the end did I know I loved it.

When you write the show, you gain a deeper appreciation for it; each line becomes an extension of your own imagination; you’re more invested in it because you are a part of it. The most rewarding part of the writing process came on the final three nights of the show: when I heard the audience actually laughing at jokes I helped put in, I couldn’t help but smile onstage. I knew I was part of a group that help create something incredibly special; without upperclassman working on the script, there wouldn’t be a show at all.”

How did it feel winning your first SING!?

When we won that trophy, a wave of emotions flooded through me; the whole process of announcing the winner went extremely quickly, and I underwent the arch of nearly every emotion.

I vividly remember clutching the hands of my friends in the aisles, yearning to hear words we waiting four years to hear. After imagining our team’s name being announced for so long, it was difficult to picture anything else being said. Tension rose as we reached our climactic victory: before Miss New York could even finish saying “senior,” our entire team ran on stage and grabbed the trophy we had been working for. People around me were ecstatic: the audience was chanting our name, even JSV was chanting our name: the supportive atmosphere was simply magical. I didn’t even notice I lost a shoe while onstage; I was so overcome with satisfaction and pride, anything unrelated to SING! seemed meaningless. Memories from freshman, sophomore, and junior year SING!’s ran through my mind, along with recollections of all the heartwarming and stressful experiences from this year. I felt satisfaction in our show, knowing we put on an incredible performance. I was proud of our cast, especially of the freshmen: SING! is probably most stressful the first time around, so the fact they stuck through until closing night is a triumph in itself. I really wanted this win for them. Seeing how our grade never won before Saturday, the trophy was not my personal priority; I already knew SING! was magical without it, but I wanted our freshmen to experience winning in their first SING! since we could never get that. I, like many of the seniors, also felt a tinge of sadness while on that stage though: no matter how much we tried brushing it off, we knew it was our last SING! ever, and knew it was time to pass the torch along to a new generation of SING! freshmen.”

Is there any advice you would give to underclassmen interested in SING!?

“The only advice I could give is to join. Although I am biased and would advertise joining cast, I know every group involved in SING!- cast, band, stage crew, tech crew, studio crew- truly is a family. The process may only last a few months, but SING! gives you friendships and memories to last a lifetime. The bonds built in SING! are unbreakable- when will you ever get another chance to work with a grade you probably never would’ve interacted with, let alone put on a musical together? You really only get four chances to participate; don’t let another go by without signing up. Now that I am a senior who already took her final SING! bow, I am so sad to see what was a huge part of my life end, but am so proud of the legacy we left onstage.”

By Sierra Triolo

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