The Greatest Show in Town: ‘Surround Sound IX, Under the Big Top’

The circus came to town last weekend during the Southington High School band’s “Surround Sound IX: Under the Big Top.” The musical performance combined elements of the circus, Cirque du Soleil, and the movie, “The Greatest Showman.” Above, Steve Ossias and his granddaughter, Alaina, are introduced to the spectacle by ringmaster Trevor Messina. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)



The circus couldn’t exactly come to town, but Southington High School’s Blue Knights Marching Band created their own, combing three grandiose popular shows to perform “Surround Sound IX: Under the Big Top” last weekend.

The band, color guard and choir members from SHS performed the virtual three ring circus combining songs from the Ringling Bros., Cirque du Soleil, and the movie “The Greatest Showman.”

“I’ve always loved circus music, so that’s kind of how this was done,” said the director of the show Jeffrey Shaw, also the assistant principal and former band director of 25 years. He and wife Laura were the creative team behind the theme. “We found some existing music that we pieced together for this show, but the theme and how the show is put together is something that has evolved through our conversations and planning sessions.”

With around 110 students involved, Shaw said it was the biggest show yet out of the nine-year history of surround sound performances.

“In this show, there’s something for everybody,” Shaw said. “For those of us who have been going to circuses for a long time, they’ll remember some of the Ringling Bros. music. Cirque du Solei is very modern, and the Greatest Showman is very contemporary with a historical base.”

Shaw said the learning process had been “very intense.” They began practicing shortly after New Year’s Day, starting with building the sound, then extending that to the movement pieces.

“The kids are doing this because they like to perform. They’re not getting any credit for this, they’re not getting a grade,” said Shaw. “They’re doing this because they love the marching band.”

The annual “Surround Sound” series pulled out all the stops in 2019 with dancing, singing, color guard, and of course, Southington High School’s band. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)

SHS junior Trevor Messina performed as one of the ringmasters, and also got to get involved in some new experiences.

“The nice part of this show is it allows you to do more than just play your instrument,” he said. Messina was also involved in the color guard, singing and dancing on top of his role as a ringmaster. “Balancing that has been a little stressful at times but it has been very rewarding, and I’ve gotten to work with a bunch of people I wouldn’t normally get to work with during the band season.”

Performing on a stage versus on an athletic field, with limited space and a closer audience, proved to have its challenges, but first-year BKMB member Faith Richert said she would definitely return for more.

“I really like how this show is fun, exciting, crazy, and everything’s happening all at once,” said the color guard member. “I will definitely do this again. There are so many positive people here, and we all just work together and have fun doing it.”

Band backer president Dan Noonan credited BKMB members with commitment and dedication to advancing skills in the performance arts.

“These kids are great role models and ambassadors for the school and our community. They represent Southington incredibly well,” said Noonan. “To have a community that supports the fine arts as strongly as Southington does, to have a Board of Education and Town Council who support the arts, that commitment by Southington’s leaders shapes the trajectory of these kids’ lives.”

In addition to the BOE and council, Noonan and Shaw wanted to thank SHS principal Brian Stranieri, music teacher and band parent Tom Scavone, and color guard director Michele Greene.

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