“Did you see Wexford?” a fuschia-lipsticked middle-schooler asked her father, ponytail swinging with tweenage enthusiasm. “They were so, so good!”
For six hours on Saturday, the lower lobby of the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts was transformed into a combination dressing room/rehearsal space/squeal zone for a host of cross-Canada high-school glee ensembles. They were in the running for the title of the country’s top show choir, and the race ultimately came down to two Toronto schools.
During the afternoon’s first intermission, buzz about Wexford Collegiate’s crowd-riveting song-and-dance set was even louder than the adolescent stage makeup. Wexford was the surprise underdog winner at last year’s nationals, narrowly beating favoured Etobicoke School of the Arts. On Saturday, they appeared poised for a second victory over ESA.
Te’anne Collins, a Wexford performer whose rich contralto was singled out by a judge, thought this year’s showcase topped the last. “We brought so many things to each individual song,” she remarked.
But ESA took home the prize. Officially, at least.
When the awards ceremony wrapped, a throng of loyal Wexford fans—a competing group from Montreal among them—filed out into the lobby, where the Wexfordians burst into their encore song, Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Members of the dozens-strong crowd joined forefingers and thumbs to form Ws of solidarity. Tears streamed down the singers’ cheeks.
Merik Williams, a Wexford student who was anointed “top male triple threat,” observed, “There is sadness. But that comes from the fact that it’s over. I think that even leading up to this, and being on that stage, was pretty much the highlight of most of our year.”