New York, Nu York: A Weekend of Entertainment

In New York City this weekend, and throughout the whole United States, the number one entertainment event is undoubtedly professional football's annual culminating game, the Super Bowl. This will be the 50th Super Bowl and its sports, media and more. (Funny enough, I will miss most of the game because I'm starting a new part time phys ed teaching job.) There are no New York region teams in the Super Bowl this year, so I have to admit that I don't really feel excited about this. And no, I'm not one of those sports-hating, nose-in-the-air types. I do know who is playing (Panthers vs. Broncos) and who are the starting quarterbacks (Manning vs. Newton).
Another nation-wide event, which to many people was entertainment, was the Republican presidential candidate debate televised on Saturday night. There were gaffs, plenty of awkward moments and boiling-over anger. I missed it, however. And why? Because I was attending one of Brooklyn's top live events at that time.
I was in the audience at Edward R. Murrow High School's annual SING production. SING, which was created at another Brooklyn high school (neighboring Midwood HS) in the 1940s, is a show in which the different student classes compete against each with theater productions. The kids write their own scripts, choreograph their own dances, design and create their own costumes, scenery and props, and do all facets of the shows. The famous shtick of SING is that the song writers use the tunes of famous songs (rock, pop, theatrical shows, etc.) and write their own lyrics for the songs, to fit the scripts. So for example, last night we saw one team (the Senior-Fresh team) belt out and dance to a re-write of Kiss's "Detroit Rock City" and a song from the movie "High School Musical," among others. The Junior-Soph team sang a rewrite to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (and my older daughter played the featured guitar part to it!) and others.
Both shows were spirited, highly creative performances. They were imperfect, for high school students are not pros. But this is a school known for its high-caliber music, art and drama programs, and the shows were very good and highly entertaining. For me it was both a time to kvell over my daughter's guitar work, and also an occasion for me to grow misty-eyed and nostalgic, for in 1982 I participated in SING at this very school, also as a member of the band (albeit playing piano, and for a solely Senior team).
I love SING, which is not only a tradition at this Brooklyn school but in several others in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island. (Not sure if any Bronx schools still hold this...) I've swapped stories with friends of various ages who participated in their own school SINGs, or watched their children in the shows.
SING is not necessarily a "Jewish" thing, but at least in Murrow HS, there were plenty of Jewish kids who participated. A cursory glance at the playbill handed out by the ushers showed us this, with lots of Jewish surnames listed. (And a kid named Yuval got an award at the end of the show, causing an eruption of cheers and whoops.) New York City has been the launching post of many, many Jewish performers over the years: singers, actors, dancers, musicians, songwriters, playwrights, costumers, and more. Most of the kids who participate in SING will not "go pro," but no doubt some will, with mixed success. All will have special memories of their SING experiences. Win or lose, participant or audience member, it was a wonderful experience, a very New York experience, and showed the ingenuity of a few hundred eager students. Yasher koach, kids!