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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 18, 2018

MPCHS show choir putting final touches on performance before Saturday’s invitational

Jan 31, 2018
Photo by: Grace King MPCHS show choir students rehearsed for the Mt. Pleasant Music InMotion Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 3, at the high school. During Tuesday night’s practice, students were focused on precision and costume changes between sets.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Last minute alterations were being made to costumes as Marlene DePriest, vocal music instructor at Mt. Pleasant Community High School, called students to take their places offstage.

Rehearsing in the high school’s choir room meant space was a little tight, but DePriest assured that there would be plenty of room during the Mt. Pleasant Music InMotion Invitational Saturday, Feb. 3.

“The minute you are visible, you are performing,” DePriest reminded students as they stood on either side of the show choir risers. Look to the audience, smile with chin slightly up and shoulders back, she instructed. “Teeth. You must show teeth.”

Fumbling through the entrance, DePriest instructed students to do it again, asking for a strong, performance-ready focus before they launched into their first song.

Tuesday night, Jan. 30, was the first rehearsal the students had done complete with all wardrobe changes. Nicki Ensminger, who has two daughters in show choir and has helped fit costumes for the past two years, said that every year, costumes are a nightmare.

“It comes together usually in the end at the last minute,” Ensminger said nervously. “There’s a lot of sewing backstage.”

As music and vocals filled the room, DePriest shouted above the students. “Come on, guys.” She encouraged, gesturing for more energy, volume and precision.

“Phew, I’m tired,” Wyatt Carlston could be heard saying with a grin during the transition after only the first song. Carlston said that even after they learn all vocals and motions to the performance, there are always more adjustments to be made. Although he admitted this causes a bit of forgetfulness, by the time they perform, it’s just muscle memory.

“We forget it a lot, so we do it a lot,” Carlston said. As a senior, he’s a little anxious about the invitational, which is the first competition of the year.

Although host schools don’t compete and aren’t scored, DePriest said that the judges will comment and critique.

“I want to back up the reputation we had last year,” Carlston said.

About a dozen schools will be performing at Saturday’s invitational at Mt. Pleasant Community High School (MPCHS). As the host school, MPCHS students play host, decorating rooms for each school and welcoming students to the building.

DePriest said this is a challenge for students who not only perform, but are focused on making other students feel comfortable. “They do whatever they can to make sure it’s carefree for [other school’s show choir] directors,” she said.

Sophomores Lily Pereira and Alyssa Striegel are really looking forward to decorating a school room Friday night. They get to decorate the room for Pekin Community High School, choosing the theme of “Superheroes,” including a photo booth with props of masks and capes and of course stocking the room with candy.

As they took the stage for rehearsal, however, they put that out of their mind to focus on cleaning up and sharpening their movements. Striegel said that the most challenging part of a full dress rehearsal is knowing exactly when to exit the stage and changing costumes quickly enough to get back on stage in time.

“I’m just excited about Saturday,” she gushed. “I can’t wait.”

Freshman Logan Lee said that show choir invitationals are special because it’s a time to gather with other high school show choirs and see how they react to each other’s performance. Although it’s very competitive, he said that host schools are always very welcoming and he’s looking forward to playing that part.

In between sets, students subtly corrected each other, nudging a classmate to lower their arm a smidgen or critiquing their posture.

Junior Cara Canby said that the first run through Tuesday night was a little rough, but chalked that up to how long it’s been since they practiced. “Hopefully the next run through will be much better,” she said. “We have been working our tails off all year long.”

MPCHS’s show choir will have one more rehearsal Friday night before the invitational. DePriest said that the season is never a perfect thing.

“Right now we’re working on faces, direction and body movement,” DePriest said. “It’s a constant improvement. Every judge will see something they like or would like improved.”

Saturday is going to be filled with a lot of fun shows to watch, DePriest said. “And good food. People should come out, get their lunch here and watch the finals because that will prove to be a competitive night,” she said.

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