By Taylor Griffin
If there are two things I really missed in this year’s All-University Sing acts, it’s story development and ATO’s biceps.
I felt a definite dip in creativity and innovation from last year’s showdown, and only one act — Phi Kappa Chi — showed the most willingness to think outside the box. Alas, eight must go through to Pigskin, and I’m sure happy I don’t have to choose from this lackluster group of acts.
I have a few thoughts in general. After consideration from this and previous year’s productions, it’s imperative to pick a story rather than a general theme on which to base a Sing act. Therefore, the performance lends itself to development and depth—granted no easy task to complete in less than seven minutes.
Next, some of the best acts of the night utilized Broadway show tunes to supplement the theme. Its lyrics are storytellers themselves—it’s a billion dollar industry for a reason.
Lastly, enough — I repeat — enough with the cheer stunts and tumbling. Not one act this year required them, and more than half of them featured a basket toss. No more.
ALPHA CHI OMEGA
“Brand New Ballgame”
Take me out to the ballgame, but leave AXO in the dugout.
What’s this group’s strategy? A glorified dance recital number with a few featured singers and a tired theme slapped on it. Solid.
It’s evident they have plenty of girls with dance backgrounds to showcase, which is a major strength they play up heavily. Although the music arrangement was theme-appropriate (except “Shake It Off”), I have a hard time believing they’d ever dream of dirtying those baseball dresses … er, uniforms. Where’s your storyline, AXO?
I’d much rather watch “A League of Their Own.”
ALPHA DELTA PI
“All on a Mardi Gras Day”
For ADPi, choosing Mardi Gras for a theme should have been a “no geaux.” Twenty bucks says not a one of these ladies has actually been to NOLA for Fat Tuesday.
With a total lack of story and a chorus of girls singing two octaves too high, this group gave us the sugary-sweet PG-rated version of Bourbon Street. Nothing about the performance truly screamed, “Throw me something, Mister,” except the tri-color décor and ratted-up hair.
And yet, my biggest confusion was the role of the cubist folks on the backdrop.
Your sign says “Parade Today”—did the floats already pass?
ALPHA TAU OMEGA
“Into the Darkness”
Beware: ATO’s performance requires its audience to be a little knowledgeable in literature.
Influenced by the dystopian world of “Lord of the Flies,” ATO is a group of students in survival following a plane crash on a deserted island. Exceptional choreography—specifically in the Kanye West riff section—paired with their macho demeanor was intense as they descended into savagery or madness (you decide).
The song choice, however, played a huge part in the storytelling, even when it was a bit unclear exactly what the struggle was. The survival-of-the-sanest theme was entertaining. Very well done.
BETA THETA PI
Beta’s magically charming spectacle is light-years beyond a children’s backyard party but not quite ready for Vegas.
With a simple set yet with enough character to entertain, the A capella “I’ve Got the Magic in Me” a la “Pitch Perfect,” though expected, was a sweet addition. Despite a strong start, though, the story lulled in the middle, which should have lent itself to a few more tricks. Some fixable requests: sharpen the choreography, commit to the movements and give a little more emotion from the ensemble.
Thumbs up for choosing a Broadway tune from “Pippin” as the opener — they’ve got the voices to make it happen. Please, for the love of God, don’t let the redhead graduate.
“All’s Fair in Love and War”
If one thing’s for certain, Chi O knows how to give a good stink eye.
But what’s the situation here? Two Grecian goddesses that hate each other? Who wins in this prissy mess? There’s not enough story development or information here to say.
Choreography was solid, the singing was on point, but it might help to choose an arrangement that isn’t completely full of chick favorites.
Although, I do have to give them props. Unlike last Sing, they settled on one cohesive theme this year instead of a hodgepodge of three. However, it looks like they took too many notes from TriDelt’s “Take Me to the Pyramids.”
But that’s none of my business.
DELTA DELTA DELTA
“Beyond the Rainbow”
Wonderful costuming and high energy provided yet another awesome number from TriDelt. The group had plenty of talent to choose from for their leads, including the sassy Wicked Witch. Clean, impressionable transitions on and off stage were eye-catching. A helpful hint for this group: lead singers—especially in the “Walk this Way” scene—should enunciate a little louder.
Though I’m a lifelong lover of “The Wizard of Oz”, TriDelt’s lack of creativity in finding a unique theme, however, kept me from giving them a higher score.
It’s so hard not to think back to their amazing Egyptian routine from last year and ever wonder how they could top it. Perhaps next year.
Final question: why aren’t Dorothy’s shoes red?
DELTA TAU DELTA
“The Delta Brothers”
What a band of (blues) brothers.
To a “Saturday Night Live” junkie like me, this group had so much material to work with from the jazzy music—and a Justin Timberlake bonus—along with a pattern for a storyline to follow. However, the execution wasn’t a strong as the SNL sketch and movie from which it draws.
They very clearly evoke the effortless cool of the Akroyd/Belushi duo, but unfortunately, the backdrop wasn’t exactly a fair interpretation of the Windy City. A few suggestions: clean up the choreo and sharpen the arms. It’ll go a long way.
The cops didn’t seem interested, pouty even. Stop fiddling with the handcuffs.
KAPPA ALPHA THETA
“Beneath the Floorboards”
Thanks, Theta, for ruining more of my childhood again.
Inciting nightmares for the second year in a row (not the good kind), Theta whipped out the same makeup from last year and created a less-than-stellar performance. The execution was fine, but the theme seemed really safe and close to last year’s vibe. The song choices were fitting, except for Maroon 5’s “Animal” toward the end—not at all. Perhaps a few more props to indicate the set was even a basement would help the situation.
There was an obvious storyline, but it honestly felt like Theta found out they had a ballerina among them and built a theme around it. It just doesn’t add up.
This wasn’t creepy — just cringe-worthy.
KAPPA CHI ALPHA & BETA UPSILON CHI
G.I. Joe and Rosie the … Rapper?
Surprisingly, this teamed-up group pulled off a creative theme, which was dynamic and sweet to boot. The song choices gave a wide variety of genres, from 1940s swing to a Disney classic to top 40 hits. The beginning dance scene dragged on a little longer than necessary, but it steadily gained momentum from there with a haunting version of “Carry On Wayward Son,” later expertly collaborated with “Titanium.”
The choreography wasn’t a strong point as it seemed too easy in some parts which should be cleaned up quite a bit, but it had an excellent end and momentum with the partner work.
KAPPA OMEGA TAU
“The Grand Hotel”
These Kings of Sing know the recipe for an entertaining act, but this year, they proved their comedic chops too.
Using unique elements like the hyper speed opener and a creative goofy theme to work with, KOT’s signature commanding set of vocals and athletic choreography excelled yet again.
Though it was one of the stronger performances of the night, I was slightly disappointed with KOT. They prove year after year that they are master storytellers, yet their message seemed to fade somewhere between after “I Wanna Be Like You.” I didn’t feel the grit and obvious story development as last year’s Jekyll and Hyde-inspired “The Battle Within.”
Good thing the bell hop antics on the carts remedied the problem.
KAPPA KAPPA GAMMA
Weird? Not so much, but KKG certainly can entertain.
Once again, KKG brings it down with the choreography, which strayed away from the girly sashays their competitors tend to perform. From the beginning, the theme is evident with a killer set and kooky characters. The first half of the production is stellar with its storytelling and song picks, but once the monsters take over, any sort of story left flat lines—but never in dance.
I also was a bit thrown by the not-so-scary monster costumes that were more alien than Frankenstein. Final suggestion: keep your tongues in your mouths.
“The World Will Know”
Filthy hobbits … oh wait, it’s Robin Hood.
My every hope was crushed when I realized it wasn’t Frodo singing “Welcome to the Black Parade.” However, “men in tights” will work just as well.
This group’s signature bravado carried over from last year’s routine, but instead of fully developing a story as action-packed as “How We Roll,” we’re left with something to be desired. I could tell there was a setup for a bit of development at the start, but that light flicker of a storyline died out around the middle section.
But what it lacked in an interesting storyline it made up for in athleticism. Did you see those flips off the cart? Impressive.
PHI KAPPA CHI
“Dust Bowl Days”
Step aside: Phi Chi was the best thing that happened to Sing this year.
Setting a surprisingly high bar for the rest of the acts, this Oklahoma-esque number proves a moving story can, in fact, be told in just seven minutes. With an expert genre mix of songs, their repertoire put a twang on everything from Mumford and Sons to Avicii. And the choreo? Flawless.
I was sucked in from the start, but my arms hurt with chills as the refreshing rain fell accompanied by my favorite hymn “How Great Thou Art” sung acapella. At that moment, I knew Phi Chi was here to win.
For the future performances, watch the pitches on the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” section. Don’t you dare change a thing more.
PI BETA PHI
“Back in the Habit”
This holier-than-thou group is taking the term “sisterhood” to a whole new level.
Loads of energy, appropriate costuming, and a striking backdrop made for an irreverent trip to church all wrapped up nicely in a pious “Hand Jive” finale. Yes, the hand chimes made me chuckle, but there were so many missed opportunities for religious hilarity without offending.
Other than “Miss Independent” (really?), the song choice was spot on and cheesy in the best way. The singing could use a little touch up, as could the lost nuns bobbing about in the back, but Pi Phi’s strong dance sections saved their shortcomings
Amen to that.
PI KAPPA PHI
“A Wrinkle in Pi Kapp Time”
It felt more like a peek into someone’s movie library rather than a journey through time. Still, it was entertaining. A dinosaur onesie? Bonus. The partner work, especially in the ninja scene, was spot on.
And of course, throw in that Rocky Horror finale, and it’s gold. Lots of bold energy through the end made for a great performance, the movements throughout need some definite cleaning up in the meantime.
SIGMA ALPHA EPSILON
“SAE Wars: The Rebel Alliance”
SAE’s Han Solo and Princess Leia: still a better love story than last year’s Romeo and Juliet.
Always a favorite yet never surprising, the irresistible SAEs bring another comic relief to the stage. This year’s, however, proved to have much more plot than most of its competitors. Just once, I’d like to see them move on to Pigskin.
The five-star rating is just my opinion: we both know this rating is as pointless as riding a tauntaun on Tatooine.
“Let the Games Begin!”
Once again popping their caffeine pills, Sing Alliance are nothing short of an energy fest, and oh, is it fun to watch.
Though it was a safe theme, the tunes matched the plot as the audience ventured into an arcade full of cheesy smiles and black-lit dance scenes.
It’s important to note that while the costumes attempted to each portray a different video game, all together the outfits clashed, making it a little harder to enjoy the big finish.
It didn’t quite hit the mark for me in terms of creativity, but my biggest question: who is that fellow on the back of your coin? Ken Starr?
ZETA TAU ALPHA & PHI GAMMA DELTA
“The City That Never Sleeps”
If I were thankful for one element of the performance, it’d be the tapping section. A lost art that should be used more in Sing.
It was a delightful stroll through the highlights of the Big Apple from hustle of Times Square to the grunge of the subway below. The singing chops were probably one of the worst of the night, unfortunately.
Aside from the gobs of Zeta/Fiji propaganda slapped on Times Square, I loved the obvious movement from scene to scene. However, costume coordination is key. For example, it was probably a poor idea to have Beetlejuice pants, eggplant suits and red gingham in the same breath. Choices, people.
Zeta, it was kind of you to take Fiji under your wing; please consider otherwise next year.