Co-directors Susan Campbell and Brian Sikes described the competition group, now in its fourth season, as a hybrid between musical theater and show choir.
“It’s unique in this part of the state,” Campbell said. “That is why we have to go out of state sometimes for competitions.”
During competition, teams have 25 minutes to construct their set, perform and disassemble, Sikes added.
Their current production, “The Story of Me,” is a 20-minute show performed by 51 students. It features five Top 40 pop songs by artists such as Kelly Clarkson and the cast of Glee.
Preparations for the two upcoming competitions, and a third one to be held in May in Dahlonega, began last July.
“Our students gave up part of their summer and a day a week, sometimes two, to make this happen,” Campbell said.
Parents have also given their time and labor to Grand Illusion, helping with hair and makeup and constructing backdrops, Campbell added.
Saturday’s competition will be the group’s first since last May, when they swept all awards and were named Grand Champion at Music in the Park in Orlando.
The group will compete with four other schools Saturday and will have more competition the following weekend, as 14 other schools will compete in Albertville.
“We expect to do very well because we have a long tradition of excellence,” Sikes said.
Success has come in spite of a high turnover each year, as Rome Middle has just seventh and eighth grades.
“Our turnover is usually about half our students,” Sikes said. “But we never have trouble filling our ranks back up with kids who excel both academically and as performers.”
Students must keep a C average to be members of the group, Sikes added.
In addition to competing, Grand Illusion also will perform “Seussical,” based on the works of Dr. Seuss, at the Rome City Auditorium on March 8-9.