Introducing the 2024 SING! Coordinators

Matthew Monge, Rayen Zhou, and Joanne Hwang, this year’s SING! coordinators, share about themselves and their expectations for this year’s annual original musical production.

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By Ryan Radwan

This year, the Student Union (SU) decided to begin SING! preparations early by selecting coordinators in November instead of in January. Production will still occur in February and shows in the first week of March. This year’s coordinators for the annual student-run original musical competition are senior Matthew Monge, junior Rayen Zhou, and sophomore Joanne Hwang. Coordinators are responsible for not only overseeing logistics within their own grade’s SING! production but also working closely with the administration, faculty, and SU to ensure a successful SING! season. 

Senior SING!: Matthew Monge

Unlike most SING! coordinators, Matthew Monge didn’t begin his SING! journey as a producer, nor does he have any prior Slate experience. Instead, Monge joined SING! as a cast member in his sophomore year and then directed the cast crew in his junior year.

While theater was what first drew Monge to SING!, it was the unique nature of the production that made him stay. “I fell in love with SING!,” Monge said. “I love the whole atmosphere that theater creates, and when the entire school participates in [a] competition, how can you not be a part of it?” 

Monge is not the only new face on this year’s Senior SING! Slate. No member of this year’s Senior SING! Slate has served on a previous SING! Slate. Monge acknowledges that this lack of Slate experience may pose some challenges. “Someone [with experience could] tell me [that] we tried [something] for previous SING!s, but we know it doesn’t work,” Monge said. “I don’t really have that experience, so I need to be careful of what changes I make and to be very open to listening to other people.” 

This year’s Senior SING! Slate will also be structured slightly differently than the previous SING! Slates. Instead of selecting general producers with undefined responsibilities, Monge chose to give producers specific roles. “In previous years, the producers [...] just [had] the name ‘producer,’ there was no specialization. [...] [Coordinators] chose unique people who they felt had different experiences and could work well in a group,” Monge said. “This year, I split the producers into five different roles: [...] technical, dance, music, budget, and creative. They all over[see] different crews and they all have [specific] responsibilities.”

After taking on significant responsibilities and challenges in Junior SING! last year, Monge feels well-prepared to take on the role of coordinator this year. “Last year’s Junior SING! [...] was chaotic. [...] Communication wasn’t too good and a lot of rumors were flying around. [...] I felt that I needed to help out in some way,” Monge said. “I led during Junior SING!, [so] I don’t see why I can’t do it during Senior SING!.”

Above all else, Monge wants to create a SING! production that the seniors and student body as a whole will enjoy. “We want to have fun with this,” Monge said. “It’s not about making a show that you think will win a Tony [Award]. It’s about making a show that you love and that people are passionate about.” 

Junior SING!: Rayen Zhou

Junior SING! Coordinator Rayen Zhou began his journey with SING! as a freshman producer. He advanced into the position of coordinator his sophomore year and is now coordinator once again.  

Zhou became interested in SING! because he wanted to find his niche at Stuyvesant, and theater fulfilled that desire. Starting as a producer was a very beneficial experience for his SING! journey. “It's kind of like a springboard to where I am now today,” Zhou said. His role as producer consisted of managing the show logistically and behind the scenes. 

Zhou’s first year as coordinator was momentous, with Soph-Frosh SING! earning first place in a historic win. “There’s kind of this pressure to win again and maybe win all three years,” Zhou said. With this weight on his shoulders, Zhou plans to delegate work amongst his producers, directors, and supervisors to create a successful show. 

Zhou values creative freedom for crews and believes that it is important for everyone’s ideas to be represented. “My favorite part would just be the freedom of being on Slate and being able to not be confined to a single crew, I guess, and being able to work with everybody,” Zhou said. Though he vouches for creative liberty and doesn’t want to constrain the crew directors in any way, his priority is to produce a high-quality show. Zhou will continue to keep an open mind toward the crews’ visions but will prioritize coherence throughout the show. 

“I just want SING! to be an enjoyable experience for everybody,” Zhou said. Though this is a stressful competition and the goal is to win, Zhou wants all the participants to create the memories of a lifetime. “I think that kind of chaos also kind of makes it more fun,” Zhou said. All things considered, Zhou is ready to give this upcoming SING! season his all. 

Soph-Frosh SING!: Joanne Hwang

Soph-Frosh SING! Coordinator Joanne Hwang’s SING! journey began her freshman year, when her love for theater led her to produce for Soph-Frosh SING! 2023. After a positive experience with last year’s production, she decided to apply for coordinator this year. “It was such a spectacular experience that I wanted to do it again. I loved being in a position in SING! where I could build a community and help lead people,” Hwang said. 

Currently, other leadership roles for Soph-Frosh SING! have yet to be decided, but Hwang plans on recruiting Slate producers who have a variety of strengths and personalities. “I’m looking for different types of people,” Hwang said. “I feel like a diverse Slate with diverse perspectives really helps emphasize everyone’s point of view.” 

Additionally, Hwang is in the process of outlining her goals for this year’s SING!, including ways to promote student involvement. “Even if you’re not a Slate or you’re not a coordinator, your opinions are still valid,” Hwang said. “You can take bits and pieces from everyone and use everyone’s best qualities.”

One challenge that Hwang faces is the overwhelming management responsibilities that come with being a coordinator, including budgeting. Hwang plans on overcoming this by structuring her Slate effectively. “I’m not as experienced in budgeting,” Hwang said. “I want [one of the producers] to have some experience in spreadsheets and budgeting so that [they] can fill in the gaps of things that I can’t do, and that would be their responsibility.” Despite the challenges, Hwang remains optimistic about the experience ahead. “It’ll just be a learning curve,” Hwang said. 

Hwang’s ultimate goal for Soph-Frosh SING! is not just winning but creating a production that leaves a lasting impact. “I feel like everyone’s always so concerned with winning, [...] but regardless of that, it’s the idea that people should walk out saying, ‘I am proud of that,’” Hwang said. “That’s my role: [...] giving people a space to just grow as human beings.”