The 41st edition of Tiger Tunes officially begins on Saturday with Host and Hostess auditions.
Students from across campus will take the Verser stage Saturday afternoon in hopes of securing a spot in the 2019 Host and Hostess ensemble. A panel of judges will assess auditioners by their musical and dancing abilities as well as their stage presence and confidence. Saturday evening, OSF representatives will add the new group of hosts to a GroupMe and they will begin work on the 2019 show.
Starting at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, the auditions will be open to the public and heavily-supported by the Ouachita community.
The auditions will be one of the most important parts of the year-long Tiger Tunes planning process, as the Hosts and Hostesses are the most consistent and visible part of the show. Ouachita Student Foundation (OSF) director Jon Merryman puts together a judging panel consisting of the Hosts’ music director, choreography director, an OSF sponsor and an outside judge who assesses entertainment in an attempt to get the best group possible.
“Hosts and Hostesses are a key part of Tiger Tunes,” said OSF President and 2016 Host Alec Edmonds. “Many people will not remember shows, but they will remember the Hosts and Hostesses. Having great Hosts and Hostesses is something we look for in OSF and something we look for as our judges pick. They look for people who not only sing and dance well, but really represent Ouachita well because this position as a Host or Hostess is a big name. That’s something we love because we have great students at Ouachita, and we want to showcase them.”
The Host and Hostesses turn into Ouachita celebrities for the first few months of every school year. They are some of the most visible students on Ouachita’s campus as they sing and dance on stage numerous times throughout a Tiger Tunes show. This means 1,500 people see and recognize their faces every performance. This means that, apart for their performing ability, judges look for Hosts and Hostesses who will represent Ouachita in a positive manner.
“We want for them to be good representations of Ouachita,” said Addy Goodman, director of special events for OSF. “During the Tunes season, they take on the character of a Ouachita celebrity. We want these people to have good GPA’s, be well-liked on campus and be kind to the people around them. We don’t want to be putting a spotlight on someone who doesn’t necessarily deserve it.”
For anyone auditioning to be a Host or Hostess, it is a nerve-racking experience. Performing on stage in front of many peers is difficult, but it is nothing compared to performing in front of 1500 people during the Tiger Tunes performances, Therefore, while singing and dancing are integral parts of being a Host or Hostess, the judges are also looking carefully at the performer’s stage presence and confidence. Past Ouachitonians who got the job say they focused heavily on stage presence during their preparation process.
“I worked on my stage presence a lot, because I’m very awkward,” said 2017 Host Aaron George. “That was something I had to be mindful of in my audition … I hadn’t really sung much before auditions, just being on a stage by yourself. I had done choir, but it’s a lot different being the center of attention. I think that was a big obstacle to overcome.”
George studies accounting, not performance, so the obstacle was even greater for him than many other Host-hopefuls. The obstacle is so large that George is one of only two non-music majors to perform as a Host or Hostess in the past two Tiger Tunes shows. While being a music major is by no means a requirement for being a Host or Hostess, it provides one a massive advantage when auditioning.
“Being a music major helped me be as comfortable on stage as I was,” said Edmonds, who studied Worship Arts at the time of his audition.
While George did not have much experience performing, he did have a tactic to overcome his nerves and perform well for the audition.
“During the audition, I tried to go on autopilot,” George said. “The more I overthought it, the more problems it would produce. During the dance, I focused on looking comfortable. That was the main thing – looking comfortable and being comfortable on stage.”
The audition process is just the first step on the remarkable journey of Tiger Tunes, both for the hosts and the directors. After Saturday, the new group of hosts will begin to work on their music, and, beginning in the fall semester, they will practice nearly every day to perfect their performance. Those long hours of practice time draw the group together and create lifelong memories and friendships, but it all leads to the performances, which former hosts agree is the most exciting part.
“The performances were a lot of fun,” George said. “All the quick changes backstage, hanging out with those people I had gotten really close with and being on stage at Tiger Tunes, it was a lot of fun.”
By Caleb Byrd, staff writer