A Behind the Scenes Look at Bronx Science’s S!NG and Their Production ‘Backfire’

S!NG’s ‘Backfire’ was an original musical production that was full of comedic twists. A missing sorority girl. And a possible murder? This year’s members went all out.


Tiankuo Zhang

S!NG members always add a dramatic flair to their performances, always grabbing the audiences attention.

The curtains open. One side is pulled to the right by a rope pulley system backstage. The other one, which had broken just a week prior, is dragged to the left by a crew member. The now drawn back curtains reveal two average college girls in line at a cafe. This scene is seemingly normal, presenting an everyday occurrence. But Bronx Science’s S!NG writers transformed the mundane setting to create an intricate story full of twists and turns in this year’s production entitled ‘Backfire.’

Every year, S!NG, a student-led organization, produces a show, or multiple shorter ones in one evening, at Bronx Science. In S!NG’s time at Bronx Science, each new set of members and leadership tell their original stories, using theater as their medium. English teacher Ms. Vicki McGuigan, who had been the advisor for the past few years, was not present this year, as she is away on maternity leave. For this year’s production, Ms. Danielle Heckman-Perez, a Bronx Science Social Worker, filled in as faculty advisor, and together with the students contributed to this year’s S!NG show ‘Backfire.’

The production tells the story of Jo, a member of the sorority Delta Sigma Theta. She is mysteriously lost after a fire. Following this, two detectives, Steve and Alex, attempt to solve the case. In their attempts, they meet numerous dead ends, as none of the suspects appear to be guilty. In the end, they discover that her disappearance was all planned by Jo herself, all because she wanted to have some “fun.”

Although ‘Backfire’ made its debut in March, the writing process began nearly a year ago during the summer. Auditions happened in early December 2022. And soon after, rehearsals started. For three months, on Mondays and Wednesdays, S!NG members would gather in the auditorium and perfect the show. 

On March 8th and 9th, 2023, the performers and crew graced the stage of our own auditorium, presenting the final rendition of the show. This moment was quite climatic, and seeing the culmination of months worth of hard work was incredibly thrilling. Aniqa Amran ’24, the Assistant Director, noted, “It was perhaps one of the most grueling extracurriculars, which I didn’t expect going into this. But when I saw the show itself, being performed by cast members I had led, I felt so fulfilled. Theater is not my life’s passion by any means, but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to explore it and make connections with so many of my peers.”

Vyn Ikeya-Tam ’25 similarly said, “The people that I was working with helped to create fun memories during rehearsals.” S!NG from the very beginning establishes a strong sense of community. Even if you do not maintain the relationships you make there, you still recall them with fondness. 

In particular, in terms of my S!NG experience, I find that actress Judy Greer, who described her experience on movie sets to be like a summer camp, put it best. The people I met in S!NG may not be my best friends for life, but the time I spent with them is much appreciated – it is something that I, and they too, can reminisce on. For instance, Rush Barnes ’23, this year’s director, will often point me or Amran out in the halls, reminding us of our S!NG experience.   

When asked about his S!NG experience this year, Barnes said, “I want to be a director in the future. I’m grateful that I was given the privilege of exploring that in S!NG. The vision for the final show was partially mine, which made it ever more exciting to see it on stage and being watched by other Bronx Science students, teachers, and parents. When I went up on stage and bowed with the rest of the cast and crew, the culmination of my work and time sunk in. It was a great feeling to have in my senior year.”

That feeling was almost unanimous amongst the S!NG members, regardless of how long they have been on. Ashley Chen ’25, who has been in S!NG for one year, when asked about what she was most looking forward to, responded with a simple, yet all encompassing statement: “Everyone’s work coming together perfectly.” 

Crew spent hours painting several flats. The Costume and Props team had to hunt down outfits for each character. During the process, there were constant hurdles that the students had to overcome. So we were all looking forward to a smooth and refreshing show day.

Although some things did not exactly go to plan, like a mic breaking mid-show, many of our expectations were met. As I watched from the audience, despite having seen the rehearsals where they were fully dressed in their costumes, it was then that I felt everything had finally come together. I had heard the sorority chants from a Delta Sigma Theta recruitment event, hosted by Jo and her friend Anne, countless times. But it felt so much more exciting knowing that for others this was the first time. 

Mahia Rahman ’24, who on March 8th, 2023, the first show day, promptly went to the auditorium at 3:45 p.m. and watched the performance, enjoyed it quite a bit. Every morning during physics class, I had reminded her of the show dates, telling her I would appreciate familiar faces in the audience. When I spotted her in the middle of the theater, I excitedly approached her, and asked her how she was enjoying the show. She told me, “I loved seeing how they adapted existing songs and adjusted the lyrics and key to fit the plot. Especially the switch from ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ by Taylor Swift to ‘I Knew You Were Guilty.’ When I heard that, I immediately thought ‘Wow, that’s so clever.’ It was just one of those things that added to the show and made it more interesting or engaging for me as an audience member.” 

The crew bows at the end of the S!NG show. (Tiankuo Zhang)

The almost juke-box style of the production was consistent throughout the show. This included adaptations of Miley Cyrus’ “Party In the USA,” Will Wood’s “Laplace’s Angel,” Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” This, as Rahman explained, created a sense of nostalgia and familiarity that could otherwise not be replicated, drawing the audience in with recognizable melodies. 

Saziea Biva ’24 agreed. “I loved the part where they used ‘Party In the USA.’ It was one of my favorite songs as a child, so hearing it on the stage was so cool.” 

She added, “But what was best of all was how dramatic it was. The cast was always so expressive and made it really easy to understand the tone even when I was sitting pretty far back in the auditorium. Overall, it was so exciting. The part in the end where Jo jumped off the stage captured the energy of the entire show. It was fun, spontaneous, and just so great.”

This year’s S!NG show left a mark on everyone involved. The months-long experience was all worth it in the end. And it would have been possible without the work of the cast, the crew, Ms. Heckman-Perez, and other faculty who took their time to help. 

In such a STEM-oriented school, S!NG is like a breath of fresh air. Whether you are a theater enthusiast or just a casual viewer, S!NG can be a place for you. The community that is created through such an extracurricular fosters art and creativity amongst its participants. This all results in the incredible shows we have seen throughout the years. S!NG ended this year with a bang and there’s more to come.

On March 8th and 9th, 2023, the performers and crew graced the stage of our own auditorium, presenting the final rendition of the show. This moment was quite climatic, and seeing the culmination of months worth of hard work was incredibly thrilling.