Muted to Liberated: The Voices of S!NG

A chronicle of S!NG’s turbulent yet liberating journey and transition from holding virtual shows to resuming in-person shows for the 2021-2022 school year.


Jiada Valenza

From left to right: Coordinator Naomi Liu and Co-presidents Katie Kong and Labiba Islam, performing in their 2020 show, ‘Inline: The Brain Games.’

New York City is home to Broadway and all of its famous musicals. But what about off-Broadway? By off-broadway, I mean way off-Broadway.

At Bronx Science, a primarily STEM-based high school, there exists a group of students who channel their creativity into a student-produced musical program known as S!NG. The well-oiled machine of S!NG, has operated without malfunction for nine years, but little did the students know that their world would turn upside down in March of 2020 with the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. While awaiting the premiere of their new musical, all New York City Department of Education schools went to fully remote learning, so the members of S!NG realized they would have to adapt to a fully remote Zoom performance. 

At S!NG, students of all backgrounds and identities join as one to perform multiple original shows every year. Everything from props to scripts are made by the students, for the students. The entire cast and crew of S!NG 2020 were extremely excited to perform the shows they had been rehearsing from November 2019 to March 2020, but the emergence of COVID-19 changed everything. 

As COVID-19 cases were slowly spiraling out of control in countries all over the world, students and advisors knew deep in their hearts that there was potential for the virus to reach New York City, right around opening night. As cast and crew members started preparing for the first show, others were masking up and becoming apprehensive about their health. Still, S!NG persevered through these complicated emotions of uncertainty. However, when Broadway announced that it was officially shutting down because of the city’s rapid rise of cases, the cast and crew knew their upcoming scheduled shows would not run as they had hoped. 

S!NG was still able to perform their shows, but audience attendance was lower than usual. Then, on the Friday of their last show, it was announced that New York City public schools would be closing for a transition to remote learning. For many Bronx Science students who chose the ‘fully remote’ option, this turned into one and a half years of online schooling. 

Many questions arose within the S!NG team surrounding how they would put on a show for the 2020-2021 school year given that most students were fully remote, especially as 2021’s show would be S!NG’s celebratory tenth anniversary show. Co-head Coordinator of S!NG, Naomi Liu ’22 conveyed her feelings at the time and said, “I wasn’t expecting there to even be a S!NG production last year.” But even a pandemic would not stop S!NG’s tenth anniversary. 

During the virtual year of school, S!NG preserved their tradition of holding a yearly show by introducing a new format: vignettes, or episodes of a story. The cast and crew created four vignettes and entitled the entire show, ‘The Distance Between Us,’ stressing the symbiotic relationship between friends and family during this unprecedented time of the pandemic. Although the fresh idea seemed to be the perfect solution, the logistics of the show livestreamed on Zoom proved to be a challenge. But in the end, the lagging video and music, miscommunication, and disagreements all played a part in making the virtual show spectacular.

Co-head Coordinator, Katie Kong ’22, looked back on the virtual show and reflected, “Trying to teach the dance to my partner was difficult, especially since it was her first time dancing. Also, there was a lag for the music and instrumentals, so we had to pre-record the music and vocals.” Naomi Liu, the other co-head, stated, “There were many miscommunications during the summer, and the plot was originally somewhat chaotic. The situation was unexpected, but the final production turned out well. The vignettes we completed for the show turned out to be amazing.”

Now back in school, the S!NG team has a new challenge — returning with a bang. As many of the members of this year’s crew are seniors who will graduate in June 2022, it is their last year on the team, furthering their desire to make it the best show that Bronx Science has ever seen. But it seems as though the upperclassmen have already made a lasting impression on their younger contemporaries. When asked about her musical role models, one of S!NG’s underclassmen, Thasina Tabassum ’24 stated, “My role models are definitely the upperclassmen S!NG members, who make me want to be like them. I have tried to write musicals with inspiration from their style of writing.” 

Because members of S!NG reap extensive benefits from student involvement, the open auditions and try-outs for the cast and crew of S!NG every November, give others the opportunity to be a part of the one of a kind experience. Everything is overseen by the excellent guidance of S!NG’s faculty advisors, Ms. McGuigan and Ms. Parness, along with the stories from the writers, the hustle and bustle of the stage crew, and the passion from the cast. This perfectly sets the stage for another great show for all to witness during this upcoming school year.

The situation was unexpected, but the final production turned out well. The vignettes we completed for the show turned out to be amazing,” said Co-head Coordinator of S!NG, Naomi Liu ’22.