From their seats behind the audience up at the height of the Ellen Kennedy Fine Arts Center, the judges for the rescheduled Sadie Street Showcase Feb. 6 were just as happy as the performers to be able to have a season, despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

Longtime show choir judges Dr. Gerald Kreitzer, Jordan Webster and Kent Keating were three of the four judges passing judgement on the show choirs that took the stage as part of the annual event and were ecstatic at how well the showcase came off.

While there are certain criteria that the judging panel as a whole keep an eye on, and that varies based on the competition, each judge brings their own background and expertise to proceedings. For the Sadie Street Showcase, each judge provided their own scores for the subcategories.

There were some obvious differences. Performers were wearing masks, which took out an entire aspect of how judges evaluate the choirs—facial expressions—completely out of the equation.

There was even a digital performance, which added more complexities. They said a large part of show choir performances included the intangibles of a given performance, citing the energy in the room during a performance, which they missed judging over a video stream.

When it comes to the atmosphere, having a smaller crowd benefited the judges in a couple of ways. Though not as intense as it usually would be with a packed auditorium, the limited crowd provided a small sense of atmosphere.

All of the judges commended director Andrew Eley and the school district for how they were able to put on a safe competition. Initially concerned that no show choir season would be possible, being able to see an event pulled off so successfully was, “encouraging.” Eley, for his part, thanked the volunteers and community members for making it happen and rallying to support the music program. He particularly thanked Sara Breitbach and Amy Wheeler for tackling the challenge.

“Never once was there a question of are we, it’s how are we going to do this,” he said.

When it was time for the awards to be handed out, the People’s Choice Award went to Benton’s Celebration, Co., Best Male Soloist came from Marion’s Revelation choir, Best Female Soloist was from Marion’s New Creation choir and Best Band went to Marion’s New Creation. Benton’s Celebration, Co. was awarded best choreography, and Marion’s New Creation was judged to have best vocals. Overall, Benton’s Celebration, Co. was named runner-up, with Marion’s New Creation named the grand champion.

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