Day in the Life: Showchoir Competition

Show choir season has hit City’s two groups, 4th Ave and Charisma, hard with having gone through two show choir competitions this season already with two more to go. This is just one of those show choir competitions described by the students themselves.

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Day in the Life: Showchoir Competition

4th Avenue Jazz Company performing their story show based

4th Avenue Jazz Company performing their story show based "The Wave".

Lindy Rublaitus

4th Avenue Jazz Company performing their story show based "The Wave".

Lindy Rublaitus

Lindy Rublaitus

4th Avenue Jazz Company performing their story show based "The Wave".

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6:00 am

Students stumble onto a cold school bus, carrying their backpacks, blankets, and instruments. Everyone is half asleep, hiding themselves in their coats as they prepare for an hour long bus trip to their first show choir competition of the season.

“I slept for most of the bus ride up but the energy was pretty excited and tense,” said Veronica Abreu ‘19. “The roads were bad, and I think there were definitely some nerves because of that.”


8:00 am

Charisma, 4th ave, combo, and crew shuffle into the small classrooms and pack their items against the wall. Parent volunteers have set up mirrors, makeup kits, and curling irons for Charisma to start setting up for their performance at 9:00 am.

We’re led by a volunteer from the hosting school to our room where the parents have set up our mirrors and put out our makeup kits,” Francesca Brown ‘21 said. “We typically have about an hour to get ready which involves our makeup, hair, and costumes. It’s a great atmosphere, we all listen to music and sing along as we do our makeup and girls help other girls with things like eye liner and applying false lashes. Moms go around with curling irons, adding curls to our ponytails, applying gel to keep the fly aways down, and perpetually telling us to add more blush. You can tell there’s a buzz of excitement in the air and everyone is in a good mood, despite the early hour.”


9:00 am

Charisma hits the stage. Blue and gold sequins shin on the edges as they prepare for the music to start their performance. Announcers yell their name and students cheer from 4th Ave and Liberty Storm.

Well being on stage is a little nerve racking but thrilling at the same time everything just flies by when you’re up there,” Heba Abdalla ‘19 said. “After so many weeks of practice it’s scary especially when you’re being judged. Just waiting and hearing everyone. Plus, I stand out a lot compared to the other girls so I have this extra pressure to prove that just because you don’t fit what we’ve come to know as ‘a show choir looking person,’ you can still go out there and be just as good, but when you step on and you hear the music starts are your fear and worrying go out the window and you just enjoy the feeling of being up there”


11:30 am

Time to relax. Some people are in the homeroom playing card games, some have headed down to the cafeteria for a snack, some are getting some rest after the long bus ride.

“Usually most of the combo congregates around or in the cafeteria,” said Tobey Epstein ‘21, a trumpet player for both show choirs. “Someone almost always brings a card game of sorts and there’s lots of shenanigans that takes place. When we’re in the cafeteria, it usually means there’s not much else to do so we waste time by talking and eating along with the card game.”


12:30 pm

One of the most intimate moments for 4th ave is their personal warm up with director Tyler Hagy. All of the singers gather in their homeroom and perfect vocals before the actually hit the stage for a pre-show rehearsal.

“Before every performance, we try to think about why we are telling this story and some motivations we have. It is also the first time we performed outside of Iowa City and the community that started the Wave so we weren’t sure if it would mean as much to a foreign crowd,” Abreu said.


1:00 pm

Arm-in-arm, 4th ave, combo, and crew meets in the gymnasium for a second warm up that take place on risers and with music. They start going through the show all out while Hagy runs to the front to scream what they need to fix to perfect the show.

It’s the point where all of your adrenaline and nerves are building up. Going through the show is just to brush up on last minute changes but after is the part that matters,” Tommy Brands ‘19 said. “We stand in a circle and Hagy talks about what this show should mean to us. You really have to go into your own head and think about the emotion you need to put in and what the show means to you specifically. Especially for a show like ‘the wave’ where you hear about the impact it has on everyone it’s impossible to not get into it. After our last competition, Madeline Pugh started chanting ‘everywhere we go’ and we all got super hyped up and you could feel the energy from every person in the room.”


1:30 pm

Two snare hits moves everyone onto the stage. The lights are shining bright onto the colorful group of 4th ave and it’s time to share their message. A loud chant comes from the audience- “What street? 4th Ave!”

Walking on stage is this really nerve-racking and electric moment. Backstage, you can feel the anxiety and excitement coming off of everyone,” Lillian Prybil ‘19 said. “When the drum clicks, the cue to walk on stage, you just take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, and smile. The lights really are blinding. A lot of people don’t realize how hard showchoir can be. When you’re really dancing full out, you get really winded and that makes it hard to sing loudly and with good technique. But since we’re being judged the entire time that we’re on stage, we can’t afford to be out of character or not sing at any moment. This year it feels more important than ever to convey the story because of what our show is about. I have to think really hard about what it would be like to be a parent of a child with a disease and to know that they might die before I do. I really try to channel that especially in the ballad. It’s an exhausting 15-20 minutes and almost every time we get to the end of the closer, I feel light headed and like I have absolutely no more energy left. It sounds super cheesy, but we really do leave it all on the stage. You should feel like crap at the end, but that’s how you know you’ve performed well.”


6:30 pm

Morning awards are one of the most tense parts as it decides that fate of the evening. If 4th Ave places in the top scoring groups, then they perform again to have the chance to improve their score.

Morning awards are always fun, but you can tell everyone’s a little anxious. We typically have all of City sit together in the same area of the auditorium or gymnasium, like one big family. Everyone is talking about what their predictions or hopes for the awards are. At the two competitions we’ve had this year, 4th Ave has made it to finals and so everyone is really happy when they find out we’re moving on. For me, being in Charisma, morning awards are kind of like our final destination, since the place we’re given is the place we get. Then, us Charisma girls get to relax and hang out for the rest of the day, watch other groups, and cheer on 4th Ave,” Brown said.


8:00 pm

Evening performance is 4th Ave’s last chance. They have one more chance to prove to the judges that they are the best show choir. Another ‘click click’ from the drum set and they are back on stage.

Cheering for 4th ave is so fun. Seeing them perform, no matter how many times I’ve seen it, doesn’t get old. I get to see my friends having fun and enjoying what they’re doing after putting in so much work. We support each other through our cheering which makes being up there seem a little less scary when you have someone rooting for your success,” Abdalla said.


10:30 pm

Evening awards tend to start as a dance party of sorts, where show choirs dance with each other from across the room. Chanting to each other and cheering on peers to do back flips or popular dance moves. The top six show choirs that performed during the whole day are ready to hear the final results, picking out one grand champion.

“Usually, around the time of the final performance, everyone meanders into the auditorium and we start trying to gather together to cheer,” said Epstein. “The final scoring is going on behind the scenes at this point and, at the same time, most of everyone attending the competition has been packed into the theater. There’s lots of waiting and singing along to background music. Finally, the results are read out systematically and we all get to cheer.” At their first competition of the season, Muscatine River City Showcase on January 12th, 4th Ave placed 5th during finals and also took home the People’s Choice Award while Charisma took 2nd place in the all-women’s division. At their second competition, Anamosa Sadie Street Showcase, 4th Ave placed 3rd with Best Male Soloist award for Ian Allen and Best Combo while Charisma placed first as the only all women’s show choir at the competition.


11:15 pm

The way home is sometimes the roughest part of the day. Just like the morning, some are extremely excited, still high off the energy from the awards ceremony, while others hope they can catch a wink of sleep.

“On the way home, everyone should just sleep, but sometimes the whole bus sings a few songs, and then people talk among themselves. Some of the best bus rides have been when I sat near people I didn’t know super well and then got to talk to them for an hour about the most random things,” Prybil said.