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Mitchell's Show Choir Classic 'truly successful' after one-day event sees 28 performances in 14 hours

As is customary across the nation in show choir etiquette, Friend de Coup did not perform competitively, but made sure to give the home crowd an exhibition performance.

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Millard West High School's West in the Groove performing their show at the finals of the Show Choir Classic on March 19, 2022, at the Performing Arts Center.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — For nearly 14 hours on Saturday, the walls of Mitchell’s Performing Arts Center were packed with singing and dancing and crying and hugging.

The PAC served as the site of Friend de Coup’s annual Show Choir Classic, which saw 16 show choirs from South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, plus about 1,500 fans, descend upon the campus of the Mitchell School District.

“A lot of choirs are envious of Mitchell and Friend de Coup because of the beautiful facility we have. They love to come and compete here in Mitchell,” said Virginia Wishard Lambert, chair of hospitality and publicity and a parent booster for Mitchell Music Boosters. “We do (the Show Choir Classic) every year, and every year it’s amazing to have people on all three levels of the PAC cheering and dancing and having fun with other kids from other choirs.”

And the Show Choir Classic wouldn’t have seen such a large draw without immense talent performing on the stage.

Crowd
Though seats may have been open during intermissions of the Show Choir Classic, Mitchell's Performing Arts Center was packed full for the annual event on March 19, 2022.
Hunter Dunteman / Mitchell Republic

“The number of choirs we had and the regional coverage they provided really gave the audience and the participants a chance to experience high-quality show choir talent from across the region,” Wishard Lambert said.

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The event wasn’t limited to only high school choirs. Mixed into the competition was exhibition, or noncompetitive, routines from Gertie Belle Rogers and L.B. Williams Elementary, as well as Mitchell Middle School’s Exclamation and Maximum Velocity groups — something Wishard Lambert believes gives youth valuable exposure to the world of show choir.

“It also gave all the younger show choirs in Mitchell a chance to perform on that grand stage, which was a wonderful experience for them,” Wishard Lambert said. “It's a great opportunity to cultivate show choir kids and give all kids an opportunity to be exposed to singing and music.”

By 8:40 a.m., competition opened up with prelim rounds, seeing 16 show choirs perform in their routines across a variety of divisions. After nine hours of song and dance, the event took a break for their daytime awards and for the judges to decide which choirs would be moving on to the finals.

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Millard West High School's West in the Groove performing at the finals of the Show Choir Classic on March 19, 2022 at the Performing Arts Center.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

In daytime competition, Millard West (Nebraska) High School’s Swing Cats placed first over Grand Island (Nebraska) High School’s Future Image in the prep division. In the single-gender division, Millard West’s Uptown Girls took first, followed up by Sioux City (Iowa) East High School’s Prestige in second place and Aberdeen Central’s Special Request in third. Last, in the tier-II mixed division, Vermillion’s Rhythm in Red placed first, while Groton’s Prismatic Sensations and Hot Springs’ Les Chanteurs took second and third.

For what would be the final competitive routine for most schools, Aberdeen Central’s Eagle Express, Grand Island’s Ultimate Image, Lewis Central’s Corporation, Sioux City East’s The Headliners and both Millard West’s Uptown Girls and West in the Groove all qualified for the evening finals.

As is customary across the nation in show choir etiquette, Friend de Coup did not perform competitively, but made sure to give the home crowd an exhibition performance. Most of Mitchell’s performers spent their whole day helping run the tournament, alongside over a hundred highly dedicated volunteers.

Ultimately, Millard West’s West in the Groove took home the grand champion title, as well as the honors of best vocals and best choreography. Grand Island’s Ultimate Image was awarded runner-up and best band honors, while Sioux City East’s The Headliners were named second runner-up.

Millard West’s Uptown Girls, Aberdeen Central’s Eagle Express and Lewis Central’s Corporation took third, fourth and fifth runners-up in that order.

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Mitchell Friend De Coup performed their routine as an exhibition entry at their home meet March 19, 2022 at the Performing Arts Center.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

“Last year, of course, was influenced by COVID — The PAC was not packed,” Wishard Lambert said with a laugh. “This year’s event was truly successful and it was great to be holding the event like we did years before. It was wonderful to be back in true style of what the classic usually is like.”

Though FDC’s competitive circuit ended with grand champion honors in Wheaton, Illinois, on March 12, they’ll be returning to the stage for three more shows.

“We wrap up our season a couple weeks after the (Mitchell Show Choir Classic competition) with what has traditionally been called Dinner Theater,” Friend de Coup director Nick McGraw said. “We're rebranding it moving forward — this year, we're calling it Cabaret.”

Cabaret, scheduled for April 7-9 at the PAC, will see Friend de Coup perform their competition routines for the community, plus give a peek at other spring numbers and solos that were developed over the course of the season.

Ticket sales have not yet been announced, but Wishard Lambert said additional details regarding Cabaret will be finalized soon.

Following Cabaret, the SDHSAA All-State Show Choir, set for May 5-7 at South Dakota State University’s Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center, will see 52 of the top high school choir singers from across the state perform a three-day show together.

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Mitchell Friend De Coup performing their show on March 19, 2022 at the Performing Arts Center.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

The SDHSAA abandoned a competition style tournament in favor of an all-state performance in 2019 due to a lack of participating schools and troubles agreeing on rules.

Friend de Coup had won three state show choir titles during the competition tournament era.

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To keep up with updates from Friend de Coup, they suggest following them on Facebook or Instagram @frienddecoup.

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A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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