By Mary Heinrich
On Saturday, February 12, the South Harrison High School auditorium came alive with artistry of the highest caliber. Set designers, musicians, light technicians, dancers, costume changes, vocalists – the arts were all represented. It was one of the largest gatherings of young talent imaginable under one roof. It was a show choir competition.
I was less than enthusiastic when I was approached by my daughters about attending. They wanted to watch their friends perform. I imagined spending my entire Saturday bored, watching a bunch of kids I don’t know stand up and sing songs that only choir teachers enjoy. Boy was I wrong!
The performances blew me away. For starters, the sets these students used were absolutely fantastic. The sets presented ranged from a 50s soda shop black-and-white tile backdrop to a spooky dollhouse. The themes ranged from the importance of being you to the danger of wishing you had different parents.
The choir directors chose music that perfectly fit the theme of the shows. Each performance was an individual, full-fledged production and the awards were as varied as the presentations.
There were awards for best costume, best set, best musician, best soloist, and best overall, to name a few.
When I had the opportunity to speak with Robin Bohn, who serves as the director for all of the choirs at South Harrison Middle and High School and as the Region VI All-State Chorus Chairperson, I was further amazed to learn that these students do these shows multiple times throughout the school year. She told me that the number of times these routines are performed depends on the school, its choir director, and the amount of money they have to use for the registration fees, which ranges from $250 to $350 per competition.
I was further impressed to learn that the individual choral directors are responsible for deciding a theme for their own team and to design songs and dance routines fitting the chosen theme. The music for the majority of these groups was live music, further expressing the talent of the young people present.
When asked when show choir took the more theatrical turn, Mrs. Bohn said she really began to see the shift about seven or eight years ago.
One of the most upbeat choirs of the day was Robert C. Byrd’s Vocal Intensity. They even won a judge’s choice award for the energy they demonstrated on stage. The theme of their routine was “Colors” which was designed around the concept of never being afraid to be yourself.
The director of Vocal Intensity, Mady McNemar, said she was “very proud” of the way her students performed at this week’s competition. She said they had struggled a bit in their contest the previous week, but the “kids really put in the effort” during the two practices they were able to get in during the week and you could tell.
Mrs. Mac, as her students call her, went on to say, “It is only up from here.” The group took the runner-up position in their category behind only Martinsburg High School’s mixed choral group, Good Times.
1st place in Division B: Martinsburg Good Times
2nd place in Division B: Robert C. Byrd Vocal Intensity
1st pace in Division C: Doddridge County Bel Canto Bulldogs
2nd place in Division C: Grafton Entertainers Edition 51
1st place Girls’ Division: Martinsburg Glitz
If you have the opportunity, consider attending a show choir performance. Whether you are a musician or a theater buff, whether you appreciate the value of a well-built set or a well-constructed costume, whether you are a dancer at heart or you just enjoy supporting the young people of your community, you will spend the day amazed by the capabilities of high school students.