The P.S. 22 Chorus from Staten Island Will Appear on Tonight’s Oscar Show
And they’re working hard to do a great job.
The 5th-grade choir from Graniteville, Staten Island’s P.S.22 was already YouTube-famous—their videos, of the P.S.22 Chorus covering songs by the likes of Passion Pit and Eminem have racked up an estimated 27 million views at this writing—when Anne Hathaway showed up at their winter concert in December to invite them to perform February 27 at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
Now WSJ.com has a report from the rehearsal room at P.S.22, where, with less than a month to go, the pressure’s rising for chorus leader Gregg Breinberg and excitement’s cranked pretty high for the 60-odd kids set to perform for a TV audience of millions. (It was announced earlier this week that the chorus will be performing the 1939 Oscar winner for Best Song, “Over the Rainbow.”)
This past Friday, the fifth graders were rehearsing at the Kodak Theatre. They’re going to provide most of the color at the Oscars, as film critics have said that this is going to be the whitest Oscars in years. No blacks (or Latinos or Asians) have been nominated.
The 64 fifth graders who make up the chorus at New York’s Public School 22 in Staten Island arrived at the Kodak Theatre Friday to rehearse their performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” They’d flown in earlier that morning, many of them on their first-ever airplane trip. Wearing green or blue T-shirts that declared them to be an alto or soprano, they filled the theater with elementary-school enthusiasm.
“Justin Timberlake, oh my God!” one girl said when she saw the star’s seat-saving placard. “When I’m up there, my eyes will be right here.”
Then they tromped onto the Oscar stage and sang with such conviction and heart that they choked up an audience of Hollywood veterans.
Guided by stage managers and their teacher, Gregg Breinberg, the students practiced getting on and off stage and memorized their spots for the night. They marveled at the names they recognized in the audience. Sandra Bullock! Nicole Kidman! They looked around the big theater and had to be reminded to pay attention. But when they sang, it was clear they knew exactly what they were doing. They swayed and moved to the beat. They closed their eyes and gestured with their hands. They felt it.
And what did they do after feeling it? They went to Disneyland, where they also performed at the Magic Castle. But on Sunday, they are red-carpet bound, all 64 of them.
The P.S. Chorus made a previous appearance on this blog two years ago.