A view into Step Sing 2023

Brooke J. Freundschuh, Editor-in-Chief

Every year, Step Sing is a favorite campus tradition for students, faculty, alumni and supporters of The University of North Alabama. This year the brothers of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity placed first overall with their Ghostbusters themed performance.

Alpha Gamma Delta placed first in the women’s category, with Phi Mu coming in second. Despite PIKE’s overall win, Lambda Sigma Phi took home men’s first place, followed by Alpha Tau Omega. UNA’s Baptist Campus ministries placed first in the co-ed category. Phi Mu also took home awards for the Banner Drop competition and received the Friend of the Pride award. 

Preparation for Step Sing starts the May after the previous competition when the University Program Council goes on their retreat to prepare for the following school year. Mallory Campbell, Productions Promoter for UPC, knew she wanted her current position before she interviewed for it and “had some ideas in her back pocket” for what the Step Sing theme could be before the retreat. The theme they selected was “What Could Go Wrong?” This theme was announced at Homecoming 2022. 

In October, interest meetings began to be held and by November, teams were picked, songs and themes selected and captains were established. This is also when most teams started practicing before taking winter break off. Usually teams are not allowed to have the same songs, but two songs, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and “Material Girl” by Madonna, got used twice. Campbell states that she thought that since they were remixes they would be different. However, this did not stop the teams with repeat songs from performing well and placing in the competition. 

Campbell wants to make it more widely known that Step Sing is not just for members of Fraternity and Sorority Life. All UNA students are eligible and the only requirement is that there is a group of 10 people. She states that the event is a collaboration between many different organizations on campus, not just UPC and FSL. Freshman Forum, SGA, Student Engagement, The Student Alumni Association and the staff of Norton Auditorium all played big roles in putting on the production. 

“It’s cool to see all of the organizations support each other,” said Campbell. Every time a team would come back, the others would clap for them, which is great to see, because Step Sing can get so competitive.” 

For Zeta Tau Alpha, their performance was themed around the crown: ZTA’s identifying symbol. The theme was based off of the movie “Oceans 8,” which captain Maggie Jo Effinger had just finished watching when the team met to discuss themes. In “Oceans 8” the item that is stolen in the heist is a crown, but the storyline was personalized to better reflect ZTA as an organization. 

“The biggest challenge for us was the continuity of the storyline,” said Effinger. “We had some last minute changes to our storyline changing how it would start and how it was going to end.” 

Effinger believes their performance stood out because of the complexity and strength of their choreography. As a captain, her favorite part was watching the girls who had never performed in Step Sing before get their chance to shine.

“Something I did not realize was half our team had not done Step Sing before, and the girls absolutely killed it,” Effinger said. 

Students were engaged more than ever this year. According to Campbell, over 500 students attended the Banner Drop.

“We had three shows this year,” Campbell said. “Students loved that. Even the teams loved that, because the first night was just to get your nerves out. It wasn’t judged. Hopefully we’ll make that a definite thing in the future.”

Phi Mu finished as the most decorated team with their Batman vs. Joker themed show. Javia Warner and Ryleigh Crawford served as the team’s captains, positions which they had to interview for. It was both Warner and Crawford’s third year competing in Step Sing with Phi Mu. 

“No one expected Phi Mu’s show,” said Warner. “It was one-of-a-kind and each night we got more excited about performing and that showed on stage.”

Warner says that when selecting a team for Step Sing, she and Crawford selected members not only based on talent in singing and dancing, but also their character as people. It gave her the opportunity to grow closer to members who she had not had the opportunity to get to know well before. However, she feels that as captains they changed the way their organization looked at the singing portion of the competition. 

“After the first performance we went back to practice and had a heart to heart about our performance,” Warner said. “At the end of practice, everyone’s faces were showing so much excitement. Everyone shared a sense of camaraderie. At that point I knew that no matter what happened, if we won or lost, I had no regrets from the past season of practice, only love for the team that I lead.”

The largest challenge that the sisters of Phi Mu faced were their costumes. Twice the captains ordered costumes from different places only for them not to come in on time. Eventually they had to buy plain versions of the garment types they needed and dye and decorate them themselves. 

Ten judges are brought in to judge Step Sing each year. Most are from the Shoals area, but this year two judges traveled in from out of town. Each potential judge is vetted to make sure they have no affiliation with any of the organizations in the competition and are not former members of the Greek organizations represented. Judges with a background in music or theater are preferred.

“We try to get a very diverse board, so different inputs are included,” Campbell said. 

As for PIKE, they put their all into their theme, according to public relations director, Howard Cooper. 

“I wouldn’t say ours really stood out compared to the other performances,” said Cooper, “but I think you could tell how much hard work we had put in it and how passionate we all were about it.”

Many students were disappointed that the artist for 2023’s Spring Concert was not announced at Step Sing as it traditionally is. Campbell explains the decision stating that since UPC is working with a new agent this year, they have been unable to make the announcement. 

“Sadly, we didn’t get to announce the Spring Concert at Step Sing, because they’re picky about the contract and it was not to their liking yet, but hopefully we will [get it signed] very soon,” Campbell said. “I know students were disappointed about that, and I’m sorry.”