SEARCY — Easter usually brings to mind thoughts of egg hunts, sunrise services and chocolate bunnies. At Harding University in Searcy, though, Easter weekend means it’s once again time for Spring Sing.
Students from more than 20 social clubs and organizations on campus are hard at work preparing mini musical revues to perform for this year’s production, which features the theme New! The groups will vie in a friendly competition for cash prizes to be donated to charities in the winners’ names
Club directors also vote to select a group to receive the Spirit Award, which recognizes performers who, in the rehearsal and production process, best exemplify the spirit of Jesus Christ, director Steven Frye states on his website.
Clubs begin planning and rehearsing for Spring Sing several weeks in advance. Music and theater professionals work with hundreds of Harding students to develop a production that will include elaborate costumes and choreography that relate to the production’s theme.
The three-day event is presided over by hosts and hostesses who are chosen through an audition process. This year, they include seniors Dustyn Stokes, Lindsey Sloan and Blake Hunter, along with junior Austin Collum and sophomore Jonathan Andrew.
Besides being a 40-year tradition at Harding, Spring Sing also serves as a valuable recruiting tool, as it is held in conjunction with Bison Days, said Liz Howell, director of alumni relations at the university.
“For a lot of prospective students, Spring Sing is the first introduction to Harding,” Howell said. “Homecoming is a celebration of our past, and Spring Sing is all about our future.”
The event draws throngs of visitors to Searcy each year, not only future students but youth groups and families of current students as well. Howell said there has been some discussion over the years on the possibility of changing the date of Spring Sing. However, Easter has turned out to be the ideal time for many to visit the campus.
“A lot of students are out of school for Good Friday, and that makes traveling more convenient,” she said.
Although Spring Sing has become the most anticipated event on Harding’s spring-semester calendar, similar productions are performed at universities all over the country. Musical revues have been a part of campus life at schools that include Villanova, Northwestern and Brown since the 1920s, according to Frye’s website. He points out, however, that what makes Harding’s Spring Sing unique is the people, purpose and perspective that the students bring to the event by working in the spirit of camaraderie that they hope will be infectious on the campus and in the community.
Spring Sing performances will be held April 17-19 in the George S. Benson Auditorium at Harding University. Showtimes are at 7 each evening, with a 2 p.m. matinee on April 19. Tickets are $18, $15 and $12, and can be purchased at www.hardingtickets.com. For more information, call the Harding Box Office at (501) 279-4255.