PHS choir brings home awards, prepares for additional performances


PORTSMOUTH- The Portsmouth High School Music Department has had a busy year of accomplishments, from the ongoing development of a new theatre venue to an upcoming musical production. They also departed show choir season last weekend, after hitting the ground running, confident, with many months of preparation guiding their way to a satisfying, award-winning closure.

“We begin to learn our competition show music and choreography at the very beginning of the school year,” Music Director Emily Crandall said at the start of the competition season only months ago. “I really love this year’s show. It’s very unique and I’ve never seen any choir do anything quite like it.”

Even after competitions began, the rehearsals didn’t stop. Students took feedback and results from competitions and applied it to their show and made modifications as they continued to produce a better and better performance.

This is all second nature to the students’ teacher who has been involved in music and theatre her entire life, with her mother being a retired PCSD music teacher. She has participated in many shows and has watched even more. She explained that the routine this year felt special.

“Our show takes place in a puppet repair shop. All of the kids are marionette dolls with strings attached to their wrists and ankles,” Crandall explained. “Preston Krebbs, our opening soloists, begins the show waking up the marionette dolls and bringing them to life. From there, we sing and dance to some classic songs, like Beat It, and eventually we tear our strings off to *NSYNC’s Bye Bye Bye. We close our show with an upbeat dance tune, Dance With Me Tonight.”

Crandall claimed PHS is the only local choir that competes in show choir competitions.

“Although I wish we had more local competition, I wear it as a badge of honor to be the only competing show choir within the county,” Crandall said. “Show choir is not for the weak. It’s difficult, time consuming, and a lot of hard work. I’m very lucky to have an administration that is very supportive of the fine arts, specifically show choir. Without their backing, we wouldn’t be able to compete.”

The school exited the show choir season last weekend, where they left Marysville High School with the distinction of Tier 3 Grand Champions. Additionally, Crandall claimed pride in her students after a clean sweep of awards in their class, including Best Vocals; Best Choreography; Best Soloist, Junior Francisca Poxes; Best Aerial View; People’s Choice Award; and Outstanding Performer, Junior Talia Monraga Fontes.

“This was our final competition of the season,” Crandall said. “While we’ve been preparing, I’ve told my students numerous times that they could win it all today! We’ve worked hard on our vocal intensity and with cleaning up our choreography. The hours of fine-tooth combing definitely paid off. Before we went on stage, I told them that I believed in them, they need to believe in themselves, and believe in each other. I’m just really proud of them all. They walked out on stage and left everything out there.”

Crandall, who comes from a storied family of Trojan educators and administrators, said that she is immensely proud of her entire school right now.

“It’s a great time to be a Trojan. Our boys’ basketball team made it to Districts and our girls basketball team made it to the Final Four,” Crandall said the day of her students’ win. “School spirit is so high right now and I know that played a part in today’s performance.

Crandall also credited success to the band and Director Tony McKrimmon.

“Our band has also been working really hard on blend and dynamic shifts,” Crandall said. “Mr. McKrimmon shares my intensity in wanting to win and being the best we can be. I would put our show band up against any other competing band. They show up, work hard, and consistently get great scores.”

The choir’s creative team includes Professional Choreographer Brooke Smolder, Choral and Instrumental Arranger Jaime Adkins, PHS Band Director Tony McKrimmon, and former educator and Crandall’s mother, Judy Smith.

“My mom is our accompanist and jack of all trades. She helps me rehearse, paint sets, sew costumes, and listens to all my crazy ideas! I definitely could not do it without all these awesome people,” Crandall claimed.

While the choir competitions are over, the performers are not yet done. The students are ending their award-winning season with a couple more performances. The next will be their annual music presentation.

The presentation will be held March 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the PHS Auditoria. The musical is an amalgamation of musical number hits that graced the auditoria stage between 2006 and 2022, in honor of the space being retired for the in-development performance venue being added onto the school.

The group will also be performing at the PHS Culture Fest on April 11th, as well as at their own Spring Concert on May 5.

Finally, in April, the students will be traveling to Chicago to participate in a musical theater workshop, sight see, and experience live theater.

“Like I said, it’s a great time to be a Trojan!” Crandall said.

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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