Sarah Chew / Contributing Writer
Students, faculty, alumni, and other visitors flocked to the Samford University Wright Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. for the final performance of Step Sing 2022.
Over a thousand participants joined the audience for the first time since Thursday night, and the excitement was audible in the chants started by various groups to heighten team spirit and convince others to join in. The crowd hushed when independent group Dudes-A-Plenty rose to sing the Doxology per tradition. The a cappella performance was met with thunderous applause.
The judges of the show, American Idol producer Simon Lythgoe and Grammy-nominated music producer Jan Smith, were in attendance on Friday night but were formally introduced for the Saturday night performance. Smith, a vocal coach for stars such as Justin Bieber, encouraged the students to strive for vocal excellence, assuring them that she would be on the lookout for harmonies. She even referenced her connection to the Bieber song “Sorry,” which was featured by independent group Spectrum.
Step Sing 2022 saw 17 groups perform, nine of which were Greek organizations. The other eight were independent or a combination of Greek and independent students. Each show ran five minutes, preceded by a video of the directors and a one-minute emcee skit introducing the premise of the show.
Participants contributed to the energy of the crowd, aided by their familiarity with each show after watching them both during dress rehearsal and the Thursday night showing. Students in the balcony joined in for key moments, cheering when the Dark Knight was defeated in the Sigma Chi show and reciting parts of the Alpha Tau Omega emcee skit by memory.
Jonah Cleveland, one of the Alpha Tau Omega directors, noticed the difference between the Saturday night show and the others through the audience’s reactions during that skit.
“Everyone got so hyped up when we heard the feedback, and we were kind of surprised by how long it went on.” Cleveland said. “We felt like we did better each time, and going from having no other Step Sing groups, the energy is completely different.”
The conclusion of the Saturday night show was the presentation of awards and Step Sing Scholarship. Endowments by generous donors allowed participants in all capacities, including directors, props assistants, and committee members, to apply for this one-time scholarship in December.
After the 2022 Step Sing Scholarship recipients were recognized, each group presented a Step Sing Spirit Award to one member. This participant was selected by their directors in advance based on participation, dedication, and energy across rehearsals.
The most anticipated moment of the night was the announcement of the remaining Participant Choice Awards, the Men’s and Women’s Division Winners, and the Sweepstakes Award, signifying the overall winner.
The Pi Kappa Phi show, “What We Do in the Shadows,” came out on top with six out of 14 total awards, one of which was the Sweepstakes trophy itself. Other awards for Pi Kappa Phi included the Participant Choice Favorite Emcee Award. Their skit included senior (and Samford Crimson Sports Editor) Carson Caulfield as emcee emerging in a rat costume from inside a trash can and introducing the rats as the heroes of the show.
Jackson Drake, a senior and director of the Pi Kappa Phi show, admitted that the theme was unusual.
“We did lumberjacks two years ago, and that was easy for people to buy into,” Drake said. “But…when you hear ‘rat,’ you don’t typically think positive thoughts. People would be pretty scared if they saw 75 rats dancing in their kitchen, but the way we were able to pull together and make that into a fun experience was really special.”
Fellow senior Pi Kappa Phi director, McKinnon Sowell, agreed that the motivation behind the show made it unique.
“Our show stood out in the passion that was behind it,” Sowell said. “We were able to bring back the roots of Step Sing that we had forgotten about in the two years it was gone and revitalize it.”
With so many first-time viewers and performers, Step Sing 2022 was undoubtedly unique. While the fervor of rehearsals, production, and performances has ended, students eager to carry on that energy or try again for Sweepstakes will have to anticipate next year’s season.