Written by Sara Hook // Photo courtesy of 1966 Petit Jean Yearbook
This year’s Spring Sing show, “Stand Out,” marks the 49th year of Spring Sing at Harding. With such a long and creative history, each of those years has had a unique impact on the student body. Theatre Department chair and Spring Sing director Steven Frye said the distinctiveness of each Spring Sing show comes from the unique set of 1,000 people who gather to make each show — and each year’s show is special to those people.
“Nobody gets to take that away from you; that’s your year,” Frye said. “I have students that were from the 1990s who say, ‘You know, my year, that was so amazing. It was so good,’ and it was, for them, then. Those that were in 2006, it was an amazing year for them, then.”
Spring Sing has only grown since its beginning in 1974, moving from songs on risers to massive choreographed productions. Technology has been a huge part of that as well, as lasers, pyrotechnics and LED walls have become an integral part of the production. Frye, who is in his 28th year as Spring Sing director, said other changes have involved how the show is run.
“We have minimized the ‘competitive with each other’ aspect of the show … we started doing money to charities — to external charities — and we’ve added service projects this year, too,” Frye said. “It’s just a much bigger show than it used to be, and we thought it was big then.”
Other changes have come regarding the music produced during the show. Harding Academy teacher Craig Jones has worked with the hosts and hostesses and clubs for over 15 years and said shows have improved both in the arrangement of their music and in the backing tracks to project sound into the Benson.
“There’s an effort by the Fryes and Cindee Stockstill to be sure that it’s good quality singing, as best as the students can do,” Jones said.
Despite all of the changes in format and technology, the challenges club directors face to create something new remain. Frye said it’s always a matter of finding a new and fresh approach.
“When a club wins one year, everyone wants to imitate what they did the next year, and that doesn’t work,” Frye said. “It’s a different set of people doing the shows, and it’s different judges each year, so what really impressed the judges last year — it’s a whole different set this year, so you might as well ignore that and say, ‘What are we going to create? What are we going to do?’”
Another challenge is having a cohesive vision, said theatre assistant technical director and set designer Seth Fish. He said clubs often get in their own way when they try too hard to win or have too many directors with equal say.
“The clubs that do well are the ones that come with one director with a vision,” Fish said. “If you ever want to see a project die, assign a committee.”
The long history and the challenges of being different do not take away from this year’s theme, however.
“This one is unique,” Frye said. “It’s the 49th show, and it’s a chance to show off, to stand out — what makes us unique, what makes us different — and that’s always very special.”