Fans of Bridgeport High School Marching Band and Show Choir are about to witness a year of entertainment revolving around two very different concepts: “Afterworld,” based on a literary classic by Dante Alighieri – and “Girls Rock,” built upon new-age pop classics like Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and Adele’s “Rumor Has It.”
Both groups are hard at work learning their respective shows with late-summer band and show choir camps providing good opportunity to get a jump start on their 2012-13 performance seasons.
Under the direction of Robin Bohn, the show choir is hitting it hard this week, meeting 9 a.m.-3:30 daily at BHS to learn their 2013 competition show set.
“We have all girls this year,” said Bohn, about the 20-member group of 9th through 12th graders. “And you have to pick music they like, seeing as how they have to live with it for 10 months.”
It takes about seven or eight months to polish a show, Bohn said.
“They have to learn the parts to sing and every single piece of choreography,” she said. “They learn the basics at summer camp and spend the rest of the time cleaning it up. It’s a matter of making it really precise.”
Show choir competition season is February through April and includes county and state show choir expos, among other events.
In addition to tunes mentioned above, the show features “Eternal Flame” by The Bangles, “Get on Your Feet” by Gloria Estefan and various Madonna titles, performed in a medley.
This week’s learning plan involves two stages.
“The girls start with me with basic vocal technique and we work on parts. Each song is in three-part harmony and they have to learn their different parts and put it all together or they can’t possibly sing and dance at the same time,” Bohn said.
Then they move onto solo auditions – about seven available this season - and choreography with Sarah Young.
This is Young’s third season with the show choir. She does her homework when it comes to deciding upon dance steps for the show.
“I watch a lot of live concerts of artists like Madonna to see what dance steps they does during these songs,” Young said. “So I can take professional choreography and incorporate it into our show. It’s flashy, but also simple enough that they can do it.”
There is quite a transformation in a week’s time, Young said.
“It’s mostly a lot of confidence building. They come in, they’re worried about not learning three songs in a week, but at the end of the week, they have,” she said. “It’s the fact that they’ve been able to accomplish something they didn’t think they could do.”
In its eighth season, the show choir is seven members stronger than last year.
Bohn credits the middle school choir program.
“I think it helps that Mr. (Eric) Stoneking is working to bump up his choir program and that filters up to us,” she said.
The public can help make this a successful BHS Show Choir season by supporting Saturday’s major fundraising event.
“It’s our big yard sale/bake sale/50-50 drawing and car wash – a real four-ring circus,” Bohn said.
The event will be held 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. in the front BHS parking lot.
Those collective funds will help cover the $250 registration cost associated with most competitions, said Bohn, adding that each show choir member is responsible for purchasing her own costume.
This year, ensembles include a purple empire-waist cocktail dress, with a rhinestone bodice detail and flowing multicolored skirt.
Although the show choir is growing, the number of marching band members is down.
The band’s frontline, which already got a jump start on its marching season, has just six members this year. Strategy to maximize performance value includes the cross-training of members, said Bohn, also frontline/assistant marching band director.
“Some twirl batons and will be twirling rifles and flags,” she said.
The frontline and percussion of the BHS Marching Band attended a specialized day camp July 16-20.
The entire band will work together in the upcoming two-week band camp, which will be held 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
“Our ultimate goal at the end of the week is to learn all of the music and be ready for the parent performance (7 p.m. Aug. 10),” Bohn said.
That sneak peek into football season is open to the public and will be held on Wayne Jamison Field or if raining, in the BHS gym.
“We want to have all drills done and learn the music. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but a start so we can start cleaning and preparing for competition,” Bohn said.
“Afterworld,” the field show theme, is based on Alighieri's work, “The Divine Comedy” and a basic trilogy: One day Dante finds himself lost in a dark wood. Virgil, a character based on the revered Roman poet, appears and rescues him. Virgil guides Dante to a contemplation of Hell and Purgatory. Dante, having confessed his faults, and with Beatrice as his guide, is led into Paradise and attains a glimpse of the face of God.
The 2012/13 BHS Marching Band is under the direction of Chris Hayslett, with assistance by Bohn. Serving as drum major this year is BHS senior, Christen Saab.