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Singarama 2024: Behind the scenes of ‘The Lipscomb Eras’

Abigail McQueen | 

Singarama in the 80s

Singarama 1985

On April 4-6, one of Lipscomb’s longest-standing traditions will take place: Singarama. Students from all across campus will come together to direct, produce and dance in a series of short musicals, made complete with performances from this year’s hosts. But as the Lipscomb community looks forward to the show, the show itself looks backward at important moments in Lipscomb’s history.

During the fall, Lipscomb President Candice McQueen, George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts Dean Mike Fernandez, and members of the Office of Student Life team began to discuss ideas for a theme, looking at past shows as well as current events. The months-long process eventually yielded the Singarama 2024 theme: The Lipscomb Eras.

“We wanted to do a show that spotlighted different decades, as this April we are celebrating families who have called Lipscomb ‘home’ for four or more generations,” says McQueen. “The idea of eras came to the forefront as part of this discussion.”

McQueen has a personal connection to the show, as she participated in the winning show during 1995 — Living in America; Washington, D.C. — and served as a Singarama coordinator, in which she selected the hosts and helped the directors.

Singarama in the 90s

Singarama 1992

“Singarama is for anyone and everyone,” McQueen says. “It brings us together for a fun moment that requires us to use our collective talents and efforts.”

Each of this year’s performances centers on a decade at Lipscomb. First up is the 1970s, also known as The Delta NaNaNa era, presented by Sigma Iota Delta, Phi Sigma, Gamma Lambda, and friends. The directors are Catherine Marshall, a senior business management major from Nashville, Tennessee, and Lincoln Brown, a junior biology major from Cookeville, Tennessee.

“I have done Singarama every year I’ve been able to, and for my last year it just made sense to apply to be a director,” says Marshall. “Lincoln is a great friend of mine and I knew we shared a love of Singarama, so we decided to apply together.”

Their show is about Delta NaNaNa, a rock band formed by boys from Delta Nu, a former Lipscomb social club. The band members pursue their dreams and overcome pushback from the administration to ultimately create a student-led rock concert that would last for over 20 years.

“I am a firm believer that the ’70s is the best music decade. Easily,” says Marshall. “We needed mostly rock songs, like ‘Renegade’ by Styx and ‘Heartbreaker’ by Pat Benatar, but we also needed some iconic disco songs, like ‘Boogie Wonderland’ by Earth, Wind, & Fire.”

Marshall says she loves the creativity that comes with being a director and is impressed with her group’s support and willingness to show up. She remembers one rehearsal when their guys’ dance wasn’t working out like the choreographers had hoped, so they asked the boys in the dance what moves they thought would work.

Today's students rehearse the 1970s themed show  for Singarama 2024.

Today's students rehearse the 1970s themed show for Singarama 2024.

“They immediately started trying all sorts of weird flips, turns, and dances they remembered from Singaramas past,” Marshall says. “We tried several of their ideas and were able to fix that part of the dance using the input from the boys, and it was really encouraging to see them get excited about contributing their own ideas to the dance.”

Marshall is particularly excited for the music in this year’s show, as she hopes the different decades represented will resonate with the audiences. 

She encourages the Lipscomb community, “Buy your tickets for the show! So many people have put in so much work to make this the best Singarama yet, and you won’t want to miss it!”

Next is the 1980s, or That Championship Era, presented by Delta Omega, Alpha Delta, Tau Phi, Sigma Alpha, and friends. They are led by directors Audra Hochgesang, a senior accounting major from Huntingburg, Indiana, and Miles Nixon, a sophomore political science major from Nashville, Tennessee.

I have been in Singarama the past three years and loved it!” says Hochgesang. “Being a director has always been in the back of my mind, and I thought it would be fun to experience Singarama from a different perspective.”

The 1980s show is loosely based off the 1986 NAIA Men’s Basketball Championship. The night before the big game, the Bison mascot costume is stolen, and four very different Lipscomb students go on an adventure to find it. Through a series of crazy encounters, they form connections and learn to work together.

Today's students rehearse the 1980s themed show for Singarama 2024.

Today's students rehearse the 1980s themed show for Singarama 2024.

When picking songs, Hochgesang says she wanted music that would allow the cast to have fun. Their show features classic 80s hits such as “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, and “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. 

During the group’s rehearsals, Hochgesang has been impressed with how much progress the cast has made in such a short amount of time. She says she especially loves how well the leads have embodied their characters.

“The best part of being a director is having the opportunity to bring different people together, form new connections, and see countless hours of ideas, planning, and hard work come to life,” says Hochgesang. “I have loved being challenged in ways I never expected and getting to tap into my creative side.”

As Singarama approaches, Hochgesang says, “I am most excited to see the entire show come together and witness everyone’s hard work pay off. It has been so exciting to catch little glimpses of what the show will be, and I can’t wait to see how the audience will respond. Nothing beats the anticipation and excitement of show week!”

Singarama in the 70s

Singarama 1978

Last but not least, the 1990s, or The Era of Inspiration, presented by Theta Psi, Phi Nu, Pi Delta, and friends, is directed by Sean Worth, a junior graphic design major from Warrington, Pennsylvania, and Emmie Huffines, a senior law, justice, and society major form Carthage, Tennessee.

Worth has a unique experience as a director, as he has never participated in Singarama before. I've seen it the last two years, and have a musical theatre background from high school,” he says. “I talked to the leadership team to see if I'd be eligible, and then went ahead and applied!”

The show is about the origins of Healing Hands International, a charity that began in a Lipscomb business class and is bigger than ever today. 

“We thought this could be a good story to tell because at the root, it's students striving to do something bigger in life and succeeding greatly,” says Worth.

Worth, Huffines, and the production team researched the music from the era, listening to comprehensive ’90s playlists on Spotify. Their shows features highlights from several 90s icons, including “Larger Than Life,” by Backstreet Boys, “(You Drive Me) Crazy” by Britney Spears, and “Tearin’ Up My Heart” by NSYNC.

As a director, Worth says he loves, “getting to know new people throughout the process, getting to work with our amazing leads, and growing closer to my co-director Emmie!”

Although he was initially worried they wouldn’t have enough time to pull the show together, Worth is amazed at how quickly the cast has picked up on the choreography and music. He enjoys getting to see everything come together in “real-time” during nightly rehearsals.

“Honestly, regardless of the competition, I'm excited to see everyone's productions,” Worth says. “All three have such strong plots, songs, and cast members. I can't wait to see all the work that Emmie, Miles, Audra, Lincoln, Catherine, and I have put in to make it the best show it can be!”

The shows will be judged in five categories: Vocals, Choreography, Visual Elements, Entertainment, and Theme. After the final performance, the overall Sweepstakes winner will be announced.

Today's students rehearse the 1990s themed show for Singarama 2024.

Today's students rehearse the 1990s themed show for Singarama 2024.

However, Singarama wouldn’t be complete without its hosts, who dazzle the crowd with their own musical performances. This year’s hosts are senior Trinity Brown, juniors Logan Bennett and Max Martin, sophomores Allie Andres and Ava Poling, and freshman Sh’Ahr Blackburn.

Two-time host Logan Bennett says, “I had the honor of being a host last year, and I just loved the atmosphere and the ability to perform for the school. The way the entire school comes together for such a big event is so neat, and just something I wanted to be a deep part of again.”

The hosts began rehearsals early in the semester. Much of their time together has been spent preparing harmonies and solos for their group numbers.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to see the personality and talent of the other hosts shine,” Bennett says. He is most excited for the “rush” of the show and the closeness of the host group.

About Singarama as whole, Bennett says, “I just think it's super cool to see the generational effects this show has had. So many people have been a part of this show for years, and a lot of people make the pilgrimage back to Singarama - which is super neat. It's humbling to be a part of a legacy event like that.”

Don’t miss Singarama 2024: The Lipscomb Eras, from April 4-6. Tickets can be bought at this link.