Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts ready to rock with ‘Playlist’
Beck Clark is a talented member of the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts’ Music, Media and Entertainment Technology Department (MMET).
The Huntington Beach High junior is used to singing, but not necessarily used to rapping. Both are required to perform “Fly As Me” by Silk Sonic.
“On YouTube, I was [searching] like, ‘How to start rapping, how to fix your flow,’” Clark said. “I had to learn that as a new skill, almost. It’s a fun song, because you have to be confident and sure of yourself.”
Clark will be performing as lead vocalist on the song this weekend. That fun element is a big part of HBAPA’s “Playlist,” show, a contemporary music concert that will be performed a total of three times on Friday and Saturday in the Huntington Beach High School historic theater.
The MMET students, about 110 in total, are largely responsible for the show’s production. It features cover performances of songs from artists like Lizzo and Harry Styles, but also several original pieces written by students in the program. Vocalists sing both lead and background vocals, and there are also classmates on the guitars, keyboards and/or percussion, depending on the song.
The MMET media group, which has created fully formed music videos that will run simultaneously with the original songs, adds a visual component.
“It’s probably the most creative thing we do in media,” Huntington Beach High junior Quinten Franks said. “There’s so much freedom to express yourself any way you want to. The music videos, you can kind of achieve this level of precision that isn’t really achievable in any other things that we do.”
And everything is on beat. Because the performers have in-ear monitors, there’s a click going in their ear.
“That means that everything is always going to be played at the same tempo,” explained “Playlist” director Nicole Kubis, a longtime MMET vocal director who is herself an HBAPA alumna. “There’s no fluctuation. Because of that, we can line up the video with the performance. As the students are playing, the student who is on the video will be mouthing the words at the exact same time.”
This will be the first year since the pandemic began that “Playlist” resumes a sense of normalcy. Last year, the singers were not allowed to sing inside during the performance per coronavirus regulations, so the vocals were prerecorded.
“It was a wild time,” said Kubis, who is directing the show along with Michael Simmons.
For the first time this year, the show will also be interpreted by American Sign Language students from Huntington Beach High. The collaboration was orchestrated by MMET student Katie Nacino.
Students also perform essential tasks like running the lights and sound, and figuring out stage setup.
Andrew Selecky, a Huntington Beach High junior on the MMET leadership team, has plenty to do. He is singing lead vocals on a cover of “Loneliness” by an artist called Ginger Root (Cameron Lew), who is himself an alumnus of the program. Selecky is also singing on “Everlasting Dance,” a piece composed by fellow MMET student Jaxon Cunningham.
“This whole show is a representation of the state of music today,” Selecky said. “For a lot of music that’s coming out today, the target audience is high school students, 16- or 17-year-olds. We find the ones that love the music, we get them to play it, they perform it and put on a great show.”
Huntington Beach High sophomore Brooklyn Menchaca, who is singing lead vocals on one song and background on five others, said she submitted her own piece for “Playlist.” It wasn’t selected, but she didn’t mind too much.
“It’s really, really fun to hear everybody’s own music,” she said.
Tickets for “Playlist” run from $15 to $25 and are available online. For more information visit hbapa.org.
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