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By Rob Bradfield
When writing the reviews for this year’s All University Sing, I judged each act individually on a five star system.
I looked for things like choreography, song choice, vocal talent, overall execution and story development. I gave extra considerations to acts that were particularly entertaining, or creative, and how well each act developed the story within their performance. Please keep in mind that this is all just one man’s opinion.
KOT — Standing Small — 3 ½ stars
The little people of KOT had a huge performance.
If Sing was judged purely on acrobatics, KOT would be a front-runner. As it is, it is definitely one of the top acts.
Combining songs from “Oliver and Company,” “Les Miserables” and Randy Newman takes some doing, and KOT did it well. The matchbox percussion break was a stroke of genius, and there wasn’t a part of the set that was just for show.
Singing in a coffee cup and using a stapler like a diving board are things that wouldn’t occur to the average Sing crew. Little things like that, plus the amazing choreography, powerhouse vocals and imaginative interpretation of some great songs are what set this act apart.
Chi Omega — Beauty Shop Hop — 3 stars
When Chi Omega began its act, I thought it was going to be something truly special.
It opened with a powerful rendition of a housewife singing “My Strongest Suit” from Aida and opened up to a beauty shop with all the color and chemicals of the hit musical “Hairspray.” What it didn’t take from “Hairspray” is the larger-than-life feel of all the dances and characters.
I did think the three harmonizing, soul music style backup singers were a very nice touch. The vocalists were all very talented, but the overall effect of the act wasn’t what I expected from the opening. Chi Omega did a good job with what it had, but it wasn’t really enough to push them over the edge into greatness.
SAE — Mall Cops — 3 ½ stars
SAE’s greatest success this Sing is that it played to its strengths. Its strengths aren’t singing or dancing, it’s the fact that it didn’t take its act too seriously. If they had tried to do a serious Sing act about mall security they would have failed miserably.
What its did was bizarre, imaginative and hilarious. I don’t think anyone with a sense of humor can dislike rapping, recorder solos and American flag short shorts. The fight scenes, the chrome hubcap necklace and the dedication to the sheer absurdness of Sing is something that more acts should try to have.
I think it knows it probably won’t win anything, but SAE deserves a medal for having the most entertaining Sing act I’ve ever seen.
Sing Alliance — Rebellious Rhapsody — 3 ½ stars
Poverty and hunger have never looked more appealing than during Sing Alliance’s performance.
This act told the story of a prosperous town beset by a rabble of impoverished thieves and beggars through the music of Broadway, minstrel shows and the rock band Queen.
What impressed me the most was the inspired choice in songs. I’m sure that a healthy dose of Baylor Theatre participation was the reason they chose to include “Run Freedom Run” from the musical “Urinetown.” That, as well as the “Aladdin” sequence, was incredibly enjoyable.
The music was great and the choreography was sharp, but Sing Alliance didn’t take enough risks to make its performance great, and that’s what hurt them in the end.
Pi Kappa Phi — Harder to Breathe — 4 stars — Lariat Favorite
Choosing a zombie apocalypse theme for your Sing act is already worthy of praise, but pulling it off is truly amazing.
First, I would like to give a personal shout out to Nick Henshaw. Playing the guitar in front of hundreds of people is one of the hardest things to do, especially in the middle of a zombie attack, and you nailed it.
The rest of the performance wasn’t perfect, but everything about it made my night. Small errors are forgivable when the performance is this incredible. What I liked the most was the way the performers made the most of a small cast. Nothing seemed too small about the act. Most importantly, it had the one dancing zombie song that you have to have in a performance like this — “Thriller.” Also, this is one of the few acts that didn’t end in a big smiling portrait with everybody saying “Yeah!”
For its creativity, talent, and sheer pluck Pi Kappa Phi is the Lariat favorite this year.
Theta — What Goes Bump In the Night? — 3 stars
I never thought Metallica could sound feminine until I saw this act.
It was a fairly standard Sing act. A little girl’s slumber party is interrupted by closet monsters and the two end up being friends.
Even though it was a standard act, the Thetas pulled it off incredibly well. I wasn’t crazy about the song choice, but the vocals were fantastic. I wasn’t crazy about the choreography, but it was performed expertly. I wasn’t crazy about the plot, but the opening number was fantastic.
Congratulations, you made the only act I’m ashamed I like, but you did make me like it.
Delta Tau Delta — Working for a Living — 2 stars
My main problem with this act can be summarized in two words: brick people.
After a few hard rock songs like Starship’s “We Built This City,” three unlucky people dressed in brick-colored body suits came out singing Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”
I get the joke, but three guys jerking around and making faces is taking it a little too far. It was a bad joke that took way too much time and wasn’t supported by any other part of the show.
On a positive note, there was actually a foxy lady during their rendition of “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix. Between mediocre vocals and uninspired, uncoordinated choreography, DTD missed the mark this year in more ways than one. Better luck next year, guys.
KXA — Fabric of Our Lives — 2 Stars
I’d like to congratulate KXA for making laundry day slightly more interesting than it is.
To be honest, if I were picking themes for Sing laundry would be at the bottom of my list. The singers were good, but didn’t have the same depth of talent that the other acts did. What didn’t help is that they tended to stand still while singing. It can be hard to sing and dance simultaneously, but a little movement is good. The choreography didn’t do much to improve the act either.
The movements weren’t synchronized, and half of the time they were dancing in evenly spaced orderly lines. It seemed like the performance was about halfway through the development process. Sorry, ladies, but I do not see Pigskin in your future.
ADPi — Order Up! — 3 stars
Alpha Delta Pi’s act was the only one that really disappointed me.
I came in expecting something creative and different, like their acts in years past. What I got was an average Sing act that focused on the 1980s. I have to admit a little bit of bias in this case. I didn’t like the ’80s when it was still the ’90s, but I can look past that if there’s something else there.
This year, there wasn’t. The vocalists were talented, and the overall idea for the act wasn’t a bad one. The delivery and standard choreography left much to be desired. What I came to expect from previous years was a performance that took risks and embraced them. Sometimes things like that fail, but taking the chance is much better than not.
ADPi’s act felt safe, as if someone was determined to just do an average Sing act at all costs. From the talent that I saw, ADPi was capable of much more than it delivered.
AXO — Juke Box Heroes — 4 stars
Having been to a few rock concerts, I can promise anyone that goes to Sing that AXO’s performance is only marginally similar to the genuine article.
That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t enjoyable. The act follows an aspiring hair band as it moves up from playing in a garage to playing in front of a massive crowd. What makes the story believable is that there’s an actual hair band on stage. Well, I don’t think they actually play anything, but they have instruments and they look the part. That counts for something.
The choreography could have been a little more dynamic, and I think they messed with the songs a little too much. Bon Jovi and the Rolling Stones are best enjoyed unadulterated. On the whole, it was a unique and enjoyable performance.
Baylor Chamber of Commerce — Welcome To Sing
What does “That Good Old Baylor Line” have in common with The BeeGees, the Beatles and Kevin Bacon?
Its songs were all featured in the opening act at this year’s Sing. Chamber’s performance oozed green and gold out of every pore as it led us across the ages at Baylor from the tight white shirts and long skirts of the 1950s all the way up to the glittering bowties and cardigans worn today.
Chamber doesn’t have the resources or time that most groups have to put into their acts, so it’s unfair to hold them on the same standards. That being said, it did a good job with what it has. In a way, because it’s not eligible for awards, Chamber is one of the most pure acts to go on each night. It’s just students that want to have fun singing and dancing, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, until Chamber starts holding auditions it should probably stick to doing whatever it is it does on a daily basis.
Pi Beta Phi — Mad As a Hatter — 4 Stars
When I first saw the costume choices for Pi Phi’s act, I didn’t know what to think.
Their silver hair bobs and oddly colored clothing reminded me vaguely of a character pulled from a late-night anime. That was before I heard its act. It opens with the Mad Hatter singing “Mad World” by Gary Jules, which was absolutely haunting.
Unfortunately, on opening night the Hatter’s microphone wasn’t working, so the audience couldn’t hear the song that sets the tone for the whole act. The rest of the chorus jumped in and rescued the song, but technical difficulties robbed the opening night audience of one of the best parts of the entire showing.
The Hatter drags an unsuspecting Alice into a delightfully weird Wonderland in which Tim Burton would probably feel at home. The only problem I had was deciding if I liked the Who cover, the Gnarles Buckley cover or the crazy, dark, vaguely cyberpunk “Be Our Guest” from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Pi Phi took a huge risk, and I think it made it work.
Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Sigma — Bienvenue á la Masquerade — 4 ½ stars — Top pick to win Sing
I have set aside my hatred of all things Andrew Lloyd Weber to give this performance a top rating.
As surprised as I was by the fact that Kappa Sig chose a topic that had nothing to do with George W. Bush, I was even more surprised by the abrupt departure from the traditional masquerade ball setting.
Halfway through, a group of ratty jesters crashes the party and the whole scene changes. The jesters introduce Aerosmith and a long list of other fast, driven music. Eventually the party guests join in for some fantastic sequences of choreography.
The juxtaposition of the two groups makes for some awesome visuals. The precise movement of the party guests mixed with the wild, crazy energy of the jesters is a fantastic pairing.
Eventually the party returns to the original stiffness, leaving the audience wondering if it all really happened. A great job all around and the obvious pick for No. 1.
Phi Gamma Delta [Fiji] — Watch Your Step — 2 ½ stars
Fiji’s performance highlighted the plight of the lowly song-and-dance janitor.
The act opened up with a lone janitor singing about how he doesn’t want to work, but would rather bang on his drum. What didn’t work about this act is that the actual drum banging was replaced by hazmat suits and toilet jokes.
The act starts out strong with a cover of “Soul Man” by Isaac Hayes but stalls toward the end. The choreography was tight but fairly unimaginative. What redeemed this act from Sing obscurity was a couple of solid vocal performances, but on the whole it was just average.
Zeta — Gypsy Soul — 4 stars
There wasn’t a song in the Zeta’s set that I didn’t like.
“When the Levee Breaks,” “Moon Dance,” and “House of the Rising Sun” are great songs and were done well. After these three, the act stalled for a bit. After an amazing dance sequence set to Led Zeppelin, it returns to a standard full- floor dancing act. That was a little jarring, but not enough to keep me from giving the performance four stars.
Even when the dancing was less inspired, the movements were sharp and the vocals were phenomenal. With a little more time and creativity, this act could move from the middle of the front to leading the pack.
Phi Chi — Sing For Dummies — 3 ½ stars
I wish the guys that sang the opening harmonies for this act could gently sing me awake every morning.
The multipart harmonies were fantastic. Plus, it’s not every day that you see a live car crash on stage. The choreography was massive and synchronized, and the theme — crash test dummies — was entertaining. I especially enjoyed the beginning where you see them being made. It rang of “I, Robot.”
I thought the execution and the vocals were great, but it didn’t have enough of a plot to really put it over the edge into the front spot. With a little more story, Phi Chi could have easily had a first-place act.
Tri Delta/ATO — Adventure Is Out There! — 3 ½ stars
This act is hard to categorize.
I gave it three and a half because I wasn’t wowed by the song selection, or the plot development. The story was fairly conventional — Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts at a summer camp. I thought the choreography was excellent, and they played the gender divide very well. That can be hard to do with a large group of people.
There was entirely too much swing music, and I thought that they could have had a stronger plot than they did. The vocals were done well, especially the three-part harmony in the first song. The main thing I didn’t like was the raccoon segment. It felt forced, but I admire both groups for taking that risk. It just didn’t quite land.