Photos by Alen Fetahi
Extraordinary talent was on display at this year’s high school Lip Sync, held March 6-7.
What the public didn’t get to see was all the work that went into it. The performances are just the tip of the iceberg — beneath lies months of non-stop work, involving approximately 200 people. And although there are just two performances over one weekend, the impact of the show is felt all year.
Lip Sync serves as a fundraiser for the Computer Video Production (CVP) program in the business department at the high school. Money comes from ticket sales and a student-produced DVD of the performance. The proceeds are split between scholarships and the CVP program. Without Lip Sync, the program would have a hard time staying afloat; the technology must be updated frequently for the course to be relevant, and that’s not cheap.
Lip Sync, however, is not just a fundraiser, but an event just about the entire school looks forward to each year. It is a pep rally, not for sports, but for school pride in general. Lip Sync gives kids the chance to show off work in which they take great pride. Faculty even participates.
The event has a positive impact on students.
“I coached sports for ten years, but I’ve found that kids learn more about teamwork as a part of a theater production than on any sports team I’ve ever been a part of,” said Jackie Hayes, Lip Sync advisor and business teacher. She has been involved with the show for 20 years now, three as a performer and 17 as faculty advisor. (Full disclosure, she’s also my mother.)
Planning is year-round. In fact, the theme for next year has already been determined: “Lip Sync 2016 – Going Viral.” Work generally starts to get serious in December. That’s when Hayes holds the first meeting with the “Dream Team”— the students who help put the entire show together. Amalia Martinez, 10th grade Dream Team member and performer, was a vital part of the show’s success. “I love the fact that we actually get to create this amazing show that students get to participate in,” she said. “We actually get to make it all happen!”
This year’s Lip Sync may have been the best in years. The show celebrated television and movies, evident by the theme: “Lights, Cameras, Lip Sync!” Twenty acts, seven videos and six sketches filled the three-hour show. According to Hayes, “Every one of the vocal acts, live music acts and dances were stellar. There were no weaknesses in the lineup. It was an exciting show.”
The show was hosted by seven seniors: Bradley Brandt, Lauren Ball, Phoebe Defino, Dan George, Kenan Irvin, Maggie Pedersen and Biko Skalla. The six original sketches paid homage to “Parks and Recreation,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Portlandia,” “Seinfeld,” “The Office,” and “Friends,” and each was introduced by a video inspired by the openings of the actual shows. Host and broadcast journalism student Kenan Irvin took photos and footage of Saugerties and his fellow hosts in order to create the videos. The sketches, written and performed by this year’s hosts, played to laughter. The time and effort put into them was obvious.
Dan George, who wrote “The Office” sketch and acted in each of the others, has found a new calling. “I really enjoyed the work,” he said. “I liked the long nights of rehearsing. I just love being on stage.”
While the entire lineup was strong this year, naturally some acts stood out more than others. The Lip Sync did a fantastic job of diversifying the acts. In years past, many of the dance acts would be limited to the same 20 girls who all knew the same dances, just done to different music. As talented as the dancers were, the entertainment would begin to fade after a while. This year, the dance acts were never in danger of seeming too similar.
The classes of 2019 and 2020 were choreographed by junior high math teacher Ginger Vail, who also choreographed the faculty act. The 2019 and 2020 act will be hard to top. I’ve never heard a crowd participate so enthusiastically, but when the Spongebob music came on, the auditorium exploded with “Aye aye, Captains.” It didn’t take long for the crowd to explode once more, but this time in fits of laughter and cheers. This happened when seven senior boys took the stage in outrageous overalls and the most glorious beards one can imagine. Their act, Man of Constant Sorrow from the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” will not soon be forgotten. Completely original, never ceasing to entertain, it is easily one of the most fun acts that has ever graced the Sawyer stage.
The Dream Team also had fun with an act that celebrated Disney. The act was called “Disney 21, The Disney of Today.” Members of the Dream Team chose music from their favorite Disney films, but used updated remixed versions. The act started out with “Frozen.” A giant Olaf (courtesy of Sawyer Motors) entered the stage with Elsa and Anna lip syncing “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” then “Aladdin,” “Mulan,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” filled the middle, ending with everyone on stage for “The Lion King” finale.
The last non-traditional dance act that deserves a nod was Br3ak St3p. In gold hats, shoes, masks and clothes, three senior boys took the stage and immediately raised the bar. The amount of practice put into their robotic, futuristic dance moves was apparent, and the audience once again exploded into cheers.
In the Vocal Performance category, where singers perform to prerecorded music, “Como La Flor” stands out. Amalia Martinez sang lead vocals for the Spanish language song. Her rendition of the song was beautiful and proved that one doesn’t need to understand the words to appreciate the language of music. In the Live Performance category, Kelsey Gaulin, Lip Sync veteran, sang “Riptide” by Vance Joy and single-handedly proved why Lip Sync is such an important event. Lip Sync allows talent like Gaulin’s to be showcased for thousands to see. Angie Minew, Saugerties School Board member, attended the show and has since expressed interest in getting Ms. Gaulin to perform at the statewide school board conference. Lip Sync opens doors that otherwise might remain closed to people who have no other way of expressing their gifts.
Overall, Lip Sync 2015 was an exciting, fun-filled show, containing many exceptional acts. The diversity of the show’s performances, sketches and videos allowed for constant entertainment and audience participation. Through singing, laughter and cheers the audience made it apparent that the show was a huge success. So who’s ready to Go Viral?