Spring Sing performances began Thursday and will conclude Saturday, altering several traditions to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.
One of the primary deviations from a typical Spring Sing show is that this year’s shows did not occur Easter weekend for the first time since 1999. While Spring Sing has been performed on Easter weekend for decades, the production was scheduled for two weeks afterward this year due to COVID-19: Many groups needed more time and opportunities to rehearse so the cast could be safely split into groups for social distancing during rehearsals. Next year, however, Spring Sing will return to being performed Easter weekend.
While Easter is a part of many Harding students’ and employees’ Easter weekend, some took advantage of the less busy holiday weekend this year. For some participants, this date change created a change in holiday traditions. According to an April 12 survey conducted on the Harding Student Publication’s Instagram account, 66% of respondents said they typically attend Spring Sing, and 53% said they plan to attend this year. Of the latter, 85% said they would attend in person. Sixty-four percent of respondents said Spring Sing was not typically a part of their family’s Easter traditions, and 66% said they did not go home for Easter weekend.
Among other alterations to typical Spring Sing rules and traditions was clubs’ abilities to sing during live performances. Cindee Stockstill, recruiter and retention specialist for the theater department, said masks and social distancing had to be implemented not only in all performances, but also in all rehearsals and meetings.
“To limit the number of performers on stage, we have pre-recorded the Jazz Band features as well as the production numbers with the hosts, hostesses and ensemble,” Stockstill said. “The clubs were limited in the number of people who could sing on the track, and they had to sing in masks. While the audience will be limited in numbers, the enthusiasm and the joy of the performers will still come through.”
Additionally, rather than having external judges, some members of Harding faculty and staff will judge the shows this year.
Senior Ava Montgomery, two-time Spring Sing hostess (not including her selection in 2020), said one of the more significant changes to this year’s production is that they did not perform the children’s matinee before officially opening the show.
“[The children’s matinee] is like our glorified dress rehearsal, and the kids are the most fun audience,” Montgomery said. “You can go out and mess up everything that you’ve practiced, and they will just laugh and cheer and love every second of it. They’re very forgiving, and that is always so much fun, so we’re not doing that this year because of COVID, so that’s been a bummer, but we totally understand.”
Montgomery said that since children will not be able to attend a children’s matinee, she hopes they will attend one of the shows with their parents.
Dr. Steven Frye, chair of the theatre department and director of Spring Sing, is eager to reclaim what was lost last year due to the cancellation of “Once Upon a Time.” Frye said he made the initial proposal in November 2020 to limit Spring Sing show attendees to
students and employees. University President David Burks made the appeal in February 2021 to host a larger audience, which was later approved. Despite the restrictions, many accommodations are being made to make the production possible.
“We’re gonna do this thing, and I’m excited,” Frye said.
Senior Hallie Martin, women’s social club Pi Theta Phi Spring Sing director, said she is glad the shows were moved back two weeks because it allows more of her cast and crew to receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure a safer production.
“It’s also been a blessing since the new club members started practicing with our show at the beginning of February due to Club Week being pushed back to late January,” Martin said.
Despite the changes, Montgomery also said she is grateful for the opportunity to
perform this year and for all the memories she has made because of it.
“Spring Sing — whenever you’re involved in it so heavily — it always feels really important,” Montgomery said. “It’s so wonderful to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself, but this year in particular carries so much more weight of importance because we weren’t able to do it last year, and I’m just awestruck in rehearsal all the time … and I just think about it all the time and just how lucky we are that we are able to do it this year.”