Show strikes a chord

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January 28, 2011

12:05 AM

__Katherine Chiglinsky co-authored this report.__

Only at the College of William and Mary’s a cappella showcase would one be able to hear the classic folk song “The Ballad of Barbara Allen” and Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious” during the same concert.

The purpose of the spring 2011 a cappella showcase was to encourage students to audition. With all 11 groups performing together, interested students were provided with a good idea of what each one has to offer.

“It’s great because it includes all of the groups, and people can really hear what they’re looking for,” Kelsey Rothera ’12, A Cappella Council president and Reveille assistant director, said. “Even though auditions can get a little competitive, we want everyone to come out and just give it a try.”

The College’s a cappella groups usually operate independently of each other. However, the A Cappella Council appreciated the unified front of the showcase, according to Jake Nelson ’11, vice president of the A Cappella Council and director of DoubleTake.

“It’s one of the few times we have to sing all together, all 11 groups,” Nelson said. “We have both showcases and one event in the fall, at Family Weekend. And it’s great to hear what other groups are doing and to have everyone in the same place.”

At the showcase, some groups ranked entertainment as a high priority. Others emphasized their beat-boxing skills or the melodious charm of their vocals. Passing Notes took to the stage first, where the group highlighted its talented freshmen with B*Witched’s “C’est La Vie,” followed by Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer.”

The barbershop sound that has come to define the all-male group The Gentlemen of the College never fails to deliver. Its spin on classic barbershop songs, as well as contemporary songs, kept its sound fresh and engaging. Even though the barbershop sound at times sounded much like a cheesy valentine during Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” The Gentlemen delivered the song with a passion that demanded respect from the audience.

The hoodlum gear, the eclectic mix of songs and the voices that covered all octaves with finesse landed on stage as The Stairwells. A definite crowd-pleaser, the Stairwells provided a fresh spin on the classic Jackson Five song “I Want You Back.”

No wake-up call would ever be as readily accepted as the all-female group Reveille. With a sweet rendition of Sara Bareilles’s “King of Anything” and a sassy version of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” the ladies of Reveille defined what it meant to be singing divas — a little bit of sweetness, some sass and voices that could kill. The group’s signature blue shoes are hints of its allure: femininity and surprise.

If you forgot that you were attending a College concert, then you were reminded when the Christopher Wren Singers took the stage. With an emphasis on madrigal and Renaissance music, they changed the pace of the concert without sacrificing any of the talent.

Featuring a strong soloist in its version of “Superstition,” DoubleTake brought an unparalleled energy to the stage. It stayed true to its roots as a jazz a cappella group. Yet, with “He Lives in You” (from The Lion King) DoubleTake conquered a unique song which demonstrating the group’s versatility.

It wasn’t an accident when they combined “Bootylicious,” “Single Ladies,” “Irreplacable” and even “Say My Name.” If anything, the ladies of the Accidentals knew the right combination of songs to live up to their destinies.

Cleftomaniacs closed the show on a familiar note with their rendition of “California Dreaming”. With a beautiful rendition of the Mama and the Papas’s hit song, the singers revived it with energy and skill. Yet, the emotional impact of “You Don’t Know Me,” composed by Ben Folds and Regina Spektor, was enough to remind the audience why they chose to spend a rainy evening at the a cappella showcase.

As the concert continued, the audience grew, as other a cappella groups, upon finishing their performances, entered the auditorium in order to support their fellow singers, revealing just how close the a cappella community is.

“It’s a whole social network,” Julie Sabol ’12, a member of DoubleTake, said. “We have mixers within us, we have friendly rivalries, but we all know each other and it’s a great way to meet new people and make friends.”

As only one of three A Cappella Council shows this year, the spring showcase was an excellent moment when the groups delivered, the audience came and students were in tune with one another.

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