A recent Soundsation rehearsal.
Among the many great arts programs around Boca Raton, there is only one Glee-style show choir: Soundsation at Olympic Heights Community High School.
The 27-member ensemble is the only nationally competitive show choir in all of South Florida. Soundsation will open for Amber Leigh to kick off the Meet Me on the Promenade event Oct. 26 in Downtown Boca.
It will be one of the group’s many shows this year, featuring singing, dancing, glitzy costumes and a high-tech set.
Students audition to get into the show choir – or one of the school’s three other choruses. An 11-piece band joins them for some performances. (Olympic Heights also has a marching band, a jazz band, concert band, color guard and a theater program).
Brad Lister, in his eighth year at Olympic Heights, is the school’s director of vocal music and chair of the Performing and Fine Arts Department. (He is also an opera singer).
His choirs frequently perform throughout Florida, including at EPCOT. They have twice sung back-up for Kenny Rogers.
Show choir is not as popular in Florida, as in some other places, like the Midwest. The popularity of the Glee TV show has not brought more kids to it, Lister said, but “It makes it more socially acceptable for kids to be a part of it.”
It’s a big accomplishment to be able to sing well and dance to complicated choreography at the same time, Lister said, noting that many of the students also earn “superior” ratings in concert choir.
But it’s not all about singing and dancing when it comes to the academic benefits of performing arts.
Students gain confidence and self-esteem, performing in front of thousands of people. They learn time-management skills. Besides spending hours a week on choir rehearsals, many students also play a sport or participate in academic competitions. (Lister also coaches swimming.)
And to participate, they have to keep their grades up.
The parents are involved, too, building sets, altering costumes, bringing over meals during rehearsals – and raising money.
Lister said he figures Soundsation costs about $1,200 a student.
Parents organize candy sales, car washes and more to raise the money for costumes, travel to competitions and to pay the professional choreographer: Rob DiComandrea of New York, who has had an extensive stage career, and has done choreograhpy for musicals, commercials and theme parks.
Roseann Vineberg, whose daughter, Samantha, is student president of the choral department, said Soundsation is a great experience in team work.
“They’re always there for one another,” she said. “They push one another to do better.”
FIND OUT MORE
Soundsation will be the first act for the Meet Me on the Promenade event in Downtown Boca at 6 p.m. Oct. 26, opening for Amber Leigh. (Meet Me on the Promenade continues Oct. 27 with a full day of family-friendly activities. Get details at DowntownBoca.org.)
Olympic Heights Community High School is at 20101 Lyons Rd. It offers “choice” programs in early childhood teacher education; engineering and technology; finance; and tourism, hospitality and resort management.
- CHARLENE PACENTI