How S!NG Adapted To An All Virtual Format With ‘The Distance Between Us’

S!NG celebrates its tenth anniversary with a unique performance.

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Labiba Islam

‘The Distance Between Us ‘features four vignettes that center around relationships. “There are so many different kinds of relationships: friendships, familial relationships, and romantic relationships. This is a topic that people deal with on a day-to-day basis. It was a general enough topic for people in our school to relate to, but also specific enough to get more in-depth about it” said Naomi Liu ’22.

Is everyone ready? Three, two, one, record! 

On March 25th and 26th, 2021, S!NG celebrated its tenth anniversary with The Distance Between Us, a performance that emphasized the different relationships that we experience in life, amidst the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The performance was live-streamed. It is now archived and can be watched here

This year, several changes were made to the student-run production with advisors Ms. McGuigan and Ms. Parness, to in order accommodate the majority of students who are doing fully remote learning, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Before the pandemic, S!NG had two large in-person performances run by three groups: the cast, the crew, and the program team. 

Naomi Liu ’22, one of the head scriptwriters and production directors, along with Phoebe Marbid ’21, Jessica Wang ’21, Katie Kong ’22, and Labiba Islam ’22, mentioned how one of the most obvious changes made was the shift to technology. She stated, “This year, there aren’t full-on sets. Instead, they’re replaced by virtual backgrounds. We aren’t interacting physically, and we only really talk to one another through squares on our screens.” 

S!NG’s structure underwent a fundamental change in adapting to the unique difficulties faced during an international pandemic. Marbid explained that, “This year, we scriptwriters decided to create four separate stories that focus on the relationships common in life today: strangers, best friends, family, and classmates. It’s definitely a break from the traditional single production, but I don’t regret the choice one bit.” 

These four different vignettes are The Case of Alex the Anomaly, Complementary Colors, you know it hurts, and The Story of Beth and Josephine.

Throughout the vignette The Case of Alex the Anomaly, by Jessica Wang and Labiba Islam, it focuses on the weird friendship between Natalie and an invisible creature, whom she later names Alex. The two embark on a mission to find out who and what Alex is.

Complementary Colors, written by Labiba Islam and Phoebe Marbid, revolves around Parker and Jordan, two friends who grew apart as they got older. When Jordan gets the opportunity of a lifetime, they are faced with a tough decision: do they follow their dream or continue working with Parker? 

Aeva, who strives to win the support of her family for her dream of becoming a singer, is told in you know it hurts, a short story written by Kong centered around family. 

The Story of Beth and Josephine, written by Naomi Liu, features Beth and Josephine as best friends; but when Beth feels something more, what will happen to their relationship?

Marbid further explains that, “In a time when relationships seem tested by distance, it’s important that we remind ourselves of why they are important. Meaningful relationships are founded upon trust and self-growth. It doesn’t even matter if the relationships are platonic or romantic; in The Distance Between Us, we explore the impact of different dynamics.”

Marbid also noted that, “If you were to tell my junior year self that S!NG 2021 would be having a virtual performance, she would not believe you. Part of the musical theater charm is that unlike movies or TV shows, productions are completely live and allow for little moments of actor-audience interaction. Trying to recreate that online is difficult because there’s so much to consider such as video transitions, syncing up the audio, and animation. That’s why the other Head Coordinators, Katie [Katie Kong ’22], Zachary [Zachary Karlin ’21], and I decided to add in some banter between the four stories. It goes to show how at the end of the day, the people that put on a show are all human and can use a laugh, too.”

It was also more difficult for the directors to choose the cast. Kong said, “A challenge that directors faced was choosing the cast. To overcome that, we used majority rules.”

Though the Coronavirus pandemic created numerous difficulties for S!NG, some good came out of it as well. Liu shared that, “For the first time, everything is an S!NG original. All the storylines and the songs (including the melodies) were written by people in S!NG.” 

Both the video editing and program teams benefitted as well. The video editing team, including myself, Vivian Lin ’23, Marian Caballo ’22, and Miao Ting Zhen ’22, gives us the chance to exhibit our skills and imagination. For the program team, led by Jiada Valenza ’21, Kelly Huang ’21, and I, we have the chance to get creative while creating our first ever playbill.

While this S!NG performance was unlike any other, it is clear that Bronx Science students were once again able to pull off an engaging performance.

“In a time when relationships seem tested by distance, it’s important that we remind ourselves of why they are important. Meaningful relationships are founded upon trust and self-growth. It doesn’t even matter if the relationships are platonic or romantic; in The Distance Between Us, we explore the impact of different dynamics,” said Phoebe Marbid ’21.

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