Red lips and rosy cheeks fill the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage. As booming voices and thrilling dance grip the room, it’s hard to imagine these performers are only in high school.
Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts placed second at Sunday’s National Show Choir Championship to Etobicoke School of the Arts.
But for the Wexford Gleeks, winning wasn’t the priority: doing what they love was.
“At the end of the day, we want to put on the best show that we know how to and that’s what we’re going to do,” Gleeks conductor Barbara Johnston said before the competition.
And put on a great show is what they did. The Wexford Gleeks walked away with awards for best choreography, best show design and best combo in the group category. Te’Anne Collins won top female vocalist and Mishael Eusebio won top male vocalist.
These kids are like top-notch artists
— Barbara Johnston
Johnston, who’s been working with the Gleeks for four years, says songs are selected to fit the talent they have. This year’s songs included I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons, Doo Wop by Lauryn Hill and White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes.
Following the first show choir competition, the media portrayed the Wexford Gleeks as the underdog. In regards to talent, Johnston says this is not the case.
“These kids are like top-notch artists and the team and the people who work with them are all professionals,” Johnston said. “It’s just that nobody knows us. So in that respect, I suppose we’re the underdog.”
In preparation for the competition, the Gleeks practised three times a week. Katie Oswald, a Grade 12 cast member, said Wexford has been doing Glee-style performances before the TV show Glee went on the air. She says signing up for the competition was a natural transition.
“When we found out about the whole Show Choir Canada, we’re like ‘Oh, we do glee every year, we might as well join in.’ So we formed a team of our most amazing family members,” Oswald said. “And we entered and we actually won the first year, which was phenomenal.”
Although the Wexford Gleeks did not take first at this year’s show choir championship, Johnston says they are not going to give up.
“It’s going to be a new story next year. We’re not going to stop. I never expected any of this to happen,” Johnston said. “We were happy to just be a little school in Scarborough that puts on amazing shows for the community … we’ll just keep going.”
Wexford’s next performance will be a production of Les Misérables at the end of May.