by Lindsay Gardner

Step One: Love to sing.

This may sound a little obvious, but what many people don’t know is that Penn Singers is actually a theater company, not a choir or an a cappella group. However, the company puts on a musical every semester, so a love of singing is required for all performing members. I’ve found that the funnest singing is sometimes not what happens in rehearsal, but rather the singing that happens while we walk home. I’ll often find myself on the way back to Harnwell with other cast members, singing the songs from the show at the top of our lungs, and most definitely being judged by everyone on Locust. These carefree musical moments are those that I feel define Singers to be not only a musical, but also a whimsical and fun-loving company. I suspect that a love of singing is also required of all tech members—they just don’t need to be good at it…

Step Two: Love G&S.

Every spring Singers puts on a production written by Gilbert and Sullivan, so if you don’t like their shows, you are probably going to hate about 50 percent of your Penn Singers experience, which would suck. G&S is definitely a different flavor than the fall Broadway shows we put on, but the music is beautiful and the shows interesting. If you are a soprano (which I am and has been a big part of my Singers experience thus far), you need to be comfortable singing far outside of your comfort zone at all times. Being a part of a G&S show has been an absolute blast this semester and tested the boundaries of what I can do as a singer, which has been an awesome experience.

Step Three: Love your castmates. 

This one is a big one. This cast has been the most fun and welcoming theater group I have ever joined. A lot of the time, you find that some theater people can be catty, but I have not encountered a single cast or crew member who has been anything but friendly and inviting (except Tim). That being said, this group isn’t sunshine and rainbows by any means. One of the best parts about being in this cast is that the underlying foundation of love and acceptance allows for constant sarcastic and rude comments. On one of the first days, one of the company members, Aliyah, said that she felt like I was the equivalent of her Rapunzel from the movie Maleficent, which to me was this beautiful combination of calling me adorable and repulsive. Nothing could have flattered me more. After all, nothing says “hi, I love you like “nobody wants you here!”

Step Four: Love yourself…sometimes a little too much.

As Trent (Yeoman #1) would say, he’s number one in the cast, and number one in your heart. The members of Penn Singers demonstrate a self-confidence that I don’t tend to see as often in the cave of mechanical engineers and computer scientists that I generally hang out in. That’s not to say that engineers are not confident, but that Singers exhibit and impeccable ability to get up on stage and sell a show (come see The Yeomen of the Guard!) and a huge amount of pride in what they do. Being a part of Penn Singers this semester has definitely increased my vocal abilities by pushing my limits, and I’ve just had a blast being a proud member of the company.

All of these steps of how to be a Penn Singer have come from only one semester—not even!—of being a Singer. I still haven’t been through all of the Singer traditions or events, and so I guess I don’t fully know how to be a Penn Singer just yet. But I’m definitely looking forward to actually learning everything there is to know, and particularly the words to “Hail Poetry.”