Sarah Keith Gamble, Singarama legend
It’s the grand finale. The stage is dead silent and the spotlights are glaring down on an empty stage. After a quick change in between scenes, he pops out onto the stage. He’s the star, getting every dance move down to the core. The only problem is, his pants are unzipped.
This is just one of Singarama’s many funny memories, from the person most closely tied to its 47 year history.
Sarah Keith Gamble, associate dean of campus life, has been able to watch all these “epically” funny moments throughout her years working for the show.
Gamble’s involvement with Singarama over the years can be summed up in one line she said, “This stuff just kind of gets in your blood sometimes!”
Gamble became head director in 1985, after Dennis Loyd, an English professor, left the show. She went from being head resident of Johnson Hall, to Campus Life, to head director of Singarama.
Before all of this, Gamble was on the other side of the stage, performing as a student in Singarama during her college days. Gamble says performing in college was “a whole different world” compared to the more recent shows.
First off, there were no hosts/hostesses. An emcee would crack a few jokes and introduce each act; Gamble says it was “more like a talent show.”
Another difference between shows in the past and the show today is that the performers used to stand on risers.
“There was more singing and harmonizing,” Gamble says. “The harmony was great, but the show wasn’t nearly as entertaining. Now there are more dance moves, but I do miss the harmony and wish there was more in today’s shows.”
She said a friend who graduated with her returned to watch the show recently and mentioned that the show has turned from “Singarama” to “Scriptarama.”
Another change, Gamble says, is that students were once allowed to use pyrotechnics.
“One year there was a misfire at the end of the show and a thick, smoky fog settled all across the top balcony where the audience was sitting,” Gamble said.
“Fireworks at the end made for a great finale, but the fire marshal put a stop to that pretty quickly, about 10 years ago.”
Gamble looks back on her old ambitions and wishes she were a better singer than she is now.
“My fantasy was to be a great singer. My mom had a pretty alto voice, my dad had a natural ability, and somehow my brother and I didn’t get that in our gene pool,” Gamble said. “It was more an interest than a competence.”
Gamble’s job today entails coordinating and producing the entire show.
“I have my hand in everything, I guess,” Gamble said.
This years students are Caroline Newhouse, “I’ll Be Back”; Daniel Smith, “Tomorrow is Another Day”; and Ben Hardison, “You Can’t Handle the Truth.”
The student coordinators are Libby Barker, Emily Davidson and Kaitlynn Passon.
Gamble said her involvement in the creative process with the student directors’ storylines differs from show to show.
“I’m involved as much as they want me to be involved,” she said, adding that she helps to prepare them as much as possible, but what makes the show so beautiful is that it is completely student-created.
“From the very beginning, it’s ‘Here are my four words, what am I going to do with this?’” she said. The students get quotes of about four or five words and must base their entire show around these words.
Gamble said she loves seeing the creativity Lipscomb students bring.
“We have scenes in the show I could have never envisioned myself,” Gamble said.
Not only does Gamble enjoy the creative process, she also enjoys the relationships Singarama brings. She talks about numerous late night activities, such as going to IHOP at midnight after rehearsal and laughing at one of the male directors who wore one of the costumes (a sequin dress and high heels) that night.
Gamble said this is one of the reasons Singarama is still able to exist today.
“It is our hook,” Gamble said. “Not only is it traditional, it’s fun, you get to meet people, and it’s a creative outlet.”
Gamble said a negative trend over the last decade is student involvement.
“We used to have four shows. In the last 10 to 12 years, with night classes and students working, we don’t have the same level of involvement,” Gamble said.
“It’s time-consuming, students are not getting paid, and they can’t put it on their resume.”
Gamble said she is “incredibly blessed.”
“It’s because it’s a tremendous challenge for a student to direct their peers who are volunteers,” Gamble said. “It’s a challenge, yet you have people that come in every year who have natural ability, or have done theater work in the past, or have participated in Singarama before.
“Usually groups don’t have a hard time making it work.”
Gamble says it’s amazing how much polishing is done to the shows in the last two or three days.
“There is a possibility of peaking too soon,” Gamble said. “The group may be on top of everything and feel great about their show, but by the time they open on Thursday, it’s just a little off.”
“It could be any number of factors. It may be another show just comes out of nowhere, or they’re tired. One of the lead singers may get a cold. There are just so many factors.”
Gamble said she usually asked which group she thinks will win the sweepstakes each year.
“Number one, I never do that because I’m a harmony girl,” Gamble said. “And, it’s impossible to predict, and that’s the fun of it!”
This year’s show, “Can I Quote You on That?” will play Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
“This year’s show is coming along really well,” Gamble said. “The twists on each quote are different and original, and I think the audience will be able to get into the shows.”
“It’ll be crazy, so fasten your seatbelts!”