About 13 months ago, Shorewood parents, staff, and stakeholders funneled into Discovery World to attend Swing with Shorewood, not realizing it would be the last big event most would attend for the next several months. Within a week of the fundraiser the novel Coronavirus had changed the way our schools, nation, and world would operate for the foreseeable future.
This year has been rife with change that has prompted our community to embrace adaptation and ingenuity. SEED’s premier fundraiser, Swing with Shorewood, was not going to be able to occur as it had in previous years, that was certain. The lessons learned from this year implored us to come up with a new and creative event, which is being offered virtually, in hopes of continuing to raise funds to support Shorewood schools and shine a light on the accomplishments of some of our talented students. This event titled “Swing Meets Showcase” is sure to be an entertaining evening for all who watch.
For those who have not had the opportunity to attend Showcase in previous years, we asked Jordan Biller, one of the student directors of this year’s event, to walk us through what Showcase is and give us an idea of what to expect this year.
SEED: What is showcase and what does it raise funds for in a typical year?
Jordan: Showcase is a variety talent show. In a typical year, Showcase is known as AFS Showcase, because it raises funds for Shorewood’s AFS chapter, a high school study abroad program. Since the high school has a temporary halt on taking exchange students due to COVID, we decided it would be best to use those funds for SEED instead.
S: How many years has showcase been running?
J: Many years. I can’t put an exact number on it, but it is at least 20 years. The current director of the theatre department at SHS, Dr. Adam Sheaffer, was a showcase director when he was a student at SHS.
S: What does the showcase typically look like?
J: Showcase typically consists of mostly songs performed by the students. These songs are from every genre, from classical to rock or even folk music. There are usually a couple dance acts interspersed throughout the show, and there may be a couple acts that are neither of those things. Last year, we had a juggler. In typical years, the AFS exchange students give a presentation on their impressions of American life and their backgrounds. Of course, this will not be a part of this year’s performance.
S: Who heads up Showcase each year?
J: Showcase is entirely student directed. Student directors from the previous year of Showcase meet to decide the new directors, who go through a formal application process. We usually have 6 directors, but since this year had some additional challenges, we had 9 directors to make navigating this process easier. Directors are responsible for selecting acts during auditions, maintaining the quality of the acts by giving constructive criticism, coordinating with the theatre tech department for making stage ambiance fit the performances, and performing themselves.
S: Do you remember attending Showcase for the first time? If so, how did you feel watching it?
J: Personally, I had not heard of Showcase until I got to high school. This was expected, since I did not attend elementary school in the Shorewood School District. As soon as I found out, I wanted to participate. From what I have been told by other students, as middle schoolers they really looked up to the high school performers. Showcase was seen as the next step up from Show Circle, the middle school equivalent of Showcase.
S: What do you love about Showcase?
J: I love Showcase because I have the ability to learn something from all the performers. Take this as an example- I am a classically trained musician. While I might have something to offer from the classical perspective, someone stronger in jazz performance has something to teach me in return. The exchange of ideas between performers and directors is a mutually beneficial relationship that I would say is one of my favorite parts of participating in Showcase.
S: How will this year look different?
J: Showcase is typically a live show that consists of only high school acts. But this year, it is a video that consists of acts from the high school, intermediate school, and elementary schools. The official name of the performance is Swing meets Showcase. Swing, in a typical year, is an event that raises money for SEED. We are combining the two concepts this year into one large event.
S: Can you tell me about any noteworthy performances to look out for as we watch on April 10th?
J: There are a lot of really strong performances this year. We have covers of songs by Billie Eilish, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Taylor Swift, and several songs composed by students as well.
S: What have the challenges been of directing Showcase this year?
J: Some performers are not able to come into school to work on their acts with directors. The solution was to work with them over Zoom, which obviously impedes productivity and communication. However, we still believe that the homebound performers were able to achieve the highest quality performance possible despite this obstacle.
S: Have there been any things that you’ve learned about producing for an online audience that you would not have learned in a typical year? If so, what are they and do you think any of the new skills could be applied in years to come?
J: The presentation of our performances has changed for the online format. Since performers had a camera filming closely to them, it changed their movements and musical choices, such as volume and power. There was no longer the need to project to a large auditorium. This is a problem unique to this year that we hopefully will not have to worry about again.
S: Pre-COVID, was running Showcase something you were looking forward to? If so, was there a roller coaster of emotions in knowing it would be canceled, then finding out SEED wanted to partner to make it accessible online? How did you both feel about continuing with the performance in an online format?
J: We were both all right with continuing with Showcase in an online format. We knew it could still be as good as a live show given that we put in the work.
S: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the community about the upcoming Showcase?
Showcase goes live on April 10 at 6:45 pm. Visit the Swing Meets Showcase Virtual Event webpage to purchase your access pass for the event. A $15 donation will give you an access pass to the event. The access pass can be purchased until 12:00 pm this Saturday, April 10th. The auction, which has amazing items such as signed sports apparel, event tickets, giftcards, and one of a kind experiences is live and will close on April 11th. The auction can be accessed by visiting the Swing Meets Showcase Auction 2021 webpage.
All proceeds go to SEED and in turn support Shorewood Schools!