Spring Sing’s 2014 Company started their relationship with a speed dating game, rotating partners every few minutes.
The topic of conversation was, “What talents do you bring to Company?”
Each member was forced to answer, most defaulting into awkward laughter and responding with bad impersonations.
After hours upon hours together in rehearsal, these 12 students have joined their talents to make up the comedic glue connecting Spring Sing’s independent musical and theatrical performances. “The Saturday Night Live”-esque ensemble provides the comedic relief for the evening, alternating between pre-taped videos and live sketches in between the talents’ acts.
Company was born during the Student Alumni Association’s revival of Spring Sing in 1986. Becoming a member of Company is a highly selective process – students are judged by a panel of Student Alumni Association members through a written application, in-person audition and group call back. Over the years, Company has become its own annual entity, and in 2009, gained a separate award category, now called – The Sasan Ahoraian Company Award for best Company skit.
In preparation for Friday’s performance, bi-weekly rehearsals became daily, and the group got so close that the female members even have matching friendship bracelets, said first-year Company member and second-year theater student Lila Gavares.
Every weekend in April was dedicated to filming the pre-recorded videos, and Company met regularly for general writing meetings, where members pitched and developed skit ideas.
In searching for inspiration, the best atmosphere for comedy writing, said Gavares, is building off of a normal conversation with a friend.
“I’ll see one thing (from my life) that seems kind of weird or silly, and then I just kind of blow that up and exaggerate it a lot and spin it out of proportion,” said Nathan Galovan, a fourth-year film and television student and returning Company member.
Last year, the group had just two graduating seniors, so Tucker Marsano, a third-year communications student and returning member, said the veterans were expecting Company’s ensemble vibe for the most part to go unchanged. However, for various reasons and other involvements, only four members returned.
Marsano said he was impressed by this year’s collaboration process. Together, the new and returning members, coming from different backgrounds of theater, film, improvisational comedy and dance, all write and bounce ideas off of one another.
Thanks to Company member and fifth-year dance student Joel Ontiveros, the group flexes more than just its comedy muscles this year with a dance-heavy opening number.
The Student Alumni Association Company directors Kimmy Miura, a fourth-year communications student, and Kylynn Gutierrez, a fourth-year international development studies student, said that their priority in selecting the final 12 members was to find people who would be friends first.
“This is really corny, but we all just make each other laugh a lot,” Galovan said.
Kimia Behpoornia, a fourth-year theater student, returns for her fourth and final year as a member of Company, bringing her strong background of stand-up and improvisational comedy. Every year is different, Behpoornia said, as the skits are relevant to the current UCLA atmosphere and depend on the comedy stylings of each year’s specific Company members.
This year, Behpoornia said they made the largest number of videos yet, knowing students love to watch and rewatch the Company videos on YouTube.
As a four-year member, Behpoornia said this year was by far her favorite. Thanks to a less constraining senior schedule, Behpoornia said she was able to spend more time outside of rehearsals with her fellow members and that Company’s close-knit community helped with their skit writing. The female members had bonding sleepovers, said Gavares, without the male members of course.
“I’m just enjoying everybody in the group more than worrying about what we have to do because Spring Sing is always going to be good no matter what. Only if we’re having fun while we’re doing it is it going to be the best,” Behpoornia said.
Marsano said besides all of the fun, he simply feels fortunate to be a part of Company.
“Spring Sing is the most exciting, beloved event of the year at UCLA, and we are the ones who facilitate it and entertain people between every act,” Marsano said. “And that’s a huge responsibility, but it’s also a huge honor.”