Choir

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Jack Weaver ’15 | Staff Writer

As the curtain closed at the end of the 2013 Fall Follies show, the crowd erupted into a standing ovation.

Starting with solos by both Jackie Chylinski ’14 and Jack Kay ’15 were a great way to open up the beginning of the show. I was really pleased with the way both sang their solos. The song selection for Kay, “If I Loved You” from the musical “Carousel”, fit him perfectly, and Chylinski was on pitch throughout the entirety of her solo.

Following these powerful performances were the South Singers mainly consisting of freshman and sophomores. Although they’re less experienced than some of the older groups, it wasn’t noticeable as they got  a considerably positive reaction from the crowd for singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Tower Belles, an all girls group, was next to take the stage and they too we’re able to perform quite well. I was mainly impressed by just how complex the choreography was throughout the entirety of their performance. Although they did appear off vocally at some points, missing notes here and there, the precision of their every movement as a group was able to overcome that minor downfall.

Following the Tower Belles was Jack Daley ’14, who was full of animation in his solo. He was on pitch from start to finish, hitting almost every note perfectly. After Daley finished singing his solo, all four choir groups  joined together to sing hits from Michael Jackson. Featured in this group effort were the songs “We Are the World” and “The Nature Song”, leaving the crowd on their feet to close out the 1st intermission.

Christina Koehler ’14 and Alexandra Etsios ’14 were great in their duet “I Feel Pretty/ Unpretty” from the musical “West Side Story” recently covered by the television show “Glee”, as they opened up the second half of the show. While Koehler covered the graceful melodies, Etsios featured a much more power voice throughout the duet, providing for an excellent combination.

The Suspensions, an a cappella group that is a new addition to South’s choir program, performed incredibly well. The beats were really impressive, and at some points it was so good I found myself believing that they had been pre-recordes.

My favorite part of the night though, and quite possibly for most of the crowd was the “Boys vs. Girls” theme put on display by the Pointe Singers. “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson was performed by the girls while the boys performed their rendition of the song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper entitled “Guys Just Wanna Have Fun”. It was refreshing to see this transition from serious and professional, to a much more relaxed comical act. Both guys and girls followed along with the theme of displaying hatred toward the opposite gender, and it was so hilarious. I didn’t see someone in the audience who wasn’t laughing over it.

The finale was just as good as I expected it to be, everything from the choreography, to song selection, to the soloists who performed were fantastic. The musicians in the pit also did a great job. I was very impressed with everything about the show, and I recommend anyone who did not attend the show this year, that they go next year because it is definitely worth it.

Grade: A.

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By Olivia Lang ’15 | News Editor

With only one more performance left, South choir’s “Fall Follies” will take place tonight Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at North. Tickets cost $10 for balcony seats and $15 for floor seats. They can be purchased at  the door, online at gpsouthchoir.org and at Posterity: A Gallery.

Photos by Luke Kirtley ’15

Price Zimmer ’14 | Arts & Entertainment Editor

South choir has not missed a beat, since the new director, Christopher Pratt took over; the performance was high quality, from the acting to the singing to the dancing to the lighting, and heck, even the props. It was not always perfect, but choir should be proud of what they’ve accomplished with this superb production.

Perhaps the highlight of the night was the tap dancing. It was frequent and well executed, especially in the final song, “42nd Street.”  Such an energetic and impressive display ended the show perfectly.

The best number was “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.” The entire ensemble sung with such great gumption, I may have even started tapping my toes. To see a high school choir handle a song so well was fantastic.

The next best thing would have to be the humor, not only is “42nd Street” a rather funny play, but being funny requires timing, which the students largely demonstrated, especially Emma Aboukasm ‘14 as starlet Dorothy Brock, who delivered laughs and smiles like no other.

The song “Shadow Waltz” was hilarious, as Aboukasm’s character Dorothy is a terrible dancer thrown into a dance number. Expectantly  the results are less than spectacular. She struggles to even walk, let alone dance, until she finally collapses from sheer exhaustion.

Now, let me preface any criticism by saying that yes, a musical is a difficult undertaking and that these are high school kids who have to deal with seven or so hours of school each day.

However, during the first act particularly, the delivery of lines, not jokes, were either late a few counts or stammered. I believe it was because of nerves, because the second act was almost perfect in this regard.

It really was a tale of two acts; the first act was fine but was missing a certain confidence previous choir productions have had, such as “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Pippin.” But the second act was vastly superb, simply much better done in all facets of the production, and the ensemble should be commended for that.

Another strong point was the acting. In particular Jack Kay ’14 was great in a largely non-singing role as director Julian Marsh. He played the role with intensity and with a professionalism rarely seen in high school productions.

The final solo by Kay, was perhaps my favorite, because after two of hours of one-liners and fast-paced dancing, it is an almost melancholic look at Broadway, and was a great way to end the show.

Ali Yenchick ‘13 as Maggie Jones stole several scenes, with a thick New York accent and some funny quips about “Showbiz” and “suga dadies.”  It was great to see a high school student take over a role and own it.

She and Patrick Flanagan ’13 play off each other well as the writers of the fake show “Pretty Lady,” but also show ability during the previously mentioned “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.”

I’d also like to call attention to the crew behind the curtain, during the dress rehearsal I watched, there were some struggles that were really dragging the show down, such as steps that struggled to get into position for a song. However, by opening night it seemed like they worked out the kinks and were pretty impressive, with fake money and confetti being dropped from the ceiling onto the audience during “We’re in the Money.”

Finally, as a choir production, I thought the singing was pretty good. The first act seemed a little toned down, but the second act was top-notch.

All in all, I thought the choir did an excellent job. I’d give the first act a B+ and the second act an A+ so, I’ll average it out to an “A.”

Emily Mlynarek ’14 | Staff Writer

South’s toe-tapping all-school musical, “42nd Street”, debuts this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Grosse Pointe North’s Performing Arts Center.

“I chose the musical because it is a high-energy and entertaining show,” said Director Christopher Pratt. “It has a large cast as I wanted to give as many kids an opportunity to sing, dance and act as was possible.”

The cast of over 50 students has been rehearsing since auditions in mid- January, followed by acting and music rehearsals, ensemble member Amanda Shrader ’14 said.

“People should come see ‘42nd Street’ because it is the definition of musical theatre,” said Grace Muwad ’15. “It is exciting, funny, and full of dancing and tap. It’s a show that appeals to everyone.”

“42nd Street” focuses on famed director Julian Marsh’s (Jack Kay ’15 and Jack Daley ’14) production of musical extravaganza, ‘Pretty Lady’, at the height of the Great Depression. Just off the bus from Allentown, Pa., musical hopeful Peggy Sawyer (Muwad and Maggie Bickerstaff ’13) arrives in New York, hoping to get her big break on Broadway, Shrader said.

“She (Peggy) is young, naive, has a wonderful heart and can sing and dance like a pro,” said Muwad. “Ultimately, these qualities are what propel her into the spotlight.”

Peggy gains an unlikely admirer, Billy Lawlor (Frankie Thams ’15 and Nate Jones ’13), the male lead in ‘Pretty Lady’, Thams said.

“Billy is the lead in ‘Pretty Lady’ (the show inside of ‘42nd Street’) and is a little full of himself,” said Thams. “He has a huge crush on this girl named Peggy and flirts with her throughout the show.”

Meanwhile, Dorothy Brock (Emma Abukasm ’14 and Kristina Papas ‘13), the star of ‘Pretty Lady’ breaks her ankle and the show, of course, must go on. This is Peggy’s opportunity for a starring role and to finally see her name in lights, Shrader said.

“The tap is really great musical theater tap, which is fun to perform and entertaining for the audience to watch,” said Muwad.

The show is very high energy and includes several tap numbers and large production numbers. However, the complex tap dancing has been a challenge for the cast to learn and perfect, Pratt said.

“I think they have really risen to the challenge,” said Pratt.

Over the past three weeks we have been rehearsing daily from 3:45 to 8:45 in order to smooth transitions, learn choreography and incorporate wardrobe and makeup, Pratt said.

“The most challenging part of this production has been the last month of rehearsal,” said Shrader. “Prior to that, the leads and ensemble did not rehearse together.”

As this is Pratt’s first all school musical at South, he says he is hopeful to live up to the community’s high expectations and has had a lot of help from co- director Meaghan Dunham.

“Of course, there are natural issues that we all acclimate to with any new production team, like how rehearsals run and those kinds of logistics, but I think both Mrs. Dunham and I have been consistent in allowing students flexibility and maintaining a high expectation as it relates to rehearsals,” said Pratt.

For “42nd Street”, Pratt casted sophomores Muwad and Thams as leads, as he believes they can rise to the challenge, he said.

“Both of them have had experience with lead roles both here at South and at community theatre organizations,” said Pratt. “I think they, like the other leads, have done a great job.”

Despite being underclassmen carrying such large roles, Thams said he and Muwad handle the responsibilities well.

“I have no concerns with playing a lead as a sophomore,” said Muwad. “The role I’m playing is like myself ― young, exciting and fun.”

Pratt says that the community should see “42nd Street” to support the students’ hard work as well as the work put in by parent volunteers in order to put on this elaborate show.

“It’s going to be a great show.  The students’ talent is featured and I think that is the key.  Audiences will see and hear a lot of great moments throughout the two hour show.”

Tickets are available at GPChoir.org or At Posterity in the Village. Show times are Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 5 at 3 p.m.

To see a complete cast list, visit http://www.gpsouthchoir.org/wp-content/uploads/42nd-St-Website-Cast-List-3-20-131.pdf .

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choir slider

Will Boyce ’15 | Staff Writer

South’s choirs had not participated in a  show choir competition since the 80’s, but  under the new direction of Christopher Pratt, they have gone to two, placing second in their first, and sweeping the Grand Champion award in their second.

Angela Dusina '13 practices for the event
Angela Dusina ’13 practices for her solo. Dusina went on to win Best Soloist at the competition.

Pratt has experience with show choir competitions, having taken his previous choir, the Center Grove Sound System to these competitions on a regular basis.

This weekend, the Tower Belles, South’s all-girl choir, and the Pointe Singers, South’s most advanced choir, attended the Teays Valley Classic in Ohio. The Tower Belles competed in the all-girl choir division, and the Pointe Singers in the mixed division.

Both choirs received the acclaim of Grand Champion in their respective competitions. Not only did they sweep the competitions in which they participated, they also won many other individual honors.

“One of the things I like to do is plan to win. You plan to go in there and give the best show; you have to put everything you can towards the final product,” said Pratt. “Planning to be the best product we can be at the competition is how I plan.”

Grace Muawad '15 rehearses with Pointe Singers.
Grace Muawad ’15 who won Outstanding Performer award rehearses with Pointe Singers.

Scoring is based on four major categories: vocals, choreography, show, and instrumentals. Both choirs were the best in all four of those categories, however they were not eligible to claim the trophy in instrumentals because the choirs have it done professionally, Pratt said.

“This semester especially things have really been clicking with the Tower Belles and the Pointe Singers, I think they started to see why we were doing some of the things we were doing in the fall that may have been new, like a regular rehearsal schedule,” said Pratt. “And once we got into competition, a lot of that stuff really started to make sense to them.”

In each category, there is an award for outstanding individual performer, South swept those honors as well. Lydia Burton ’15 won outstanding performer for the all girls choir division, and Grace Muawad ’15 won for the mixed category.

“There are so many incredible performers in Pointe Singers, and truly everyone deserved that award,” said Muawad. “We have all worked incredibly hard since summer to perfect our show. Last weekend, we all gave our best performances, and I think we can definitely say that  we left it on the stage.”

An individual judge watches all the performances and takes notes on performers, watching and studying to eventually select an outstanding performer from each division at the end of all the shows, Pratt said.

Choir director Christopher Pratt runs a rehearsal with the Tower Belles.
Choir director Christopher Pratt runs a rehearsal with the Tower Belles.

Pratt was not surprised to see Muawad and Burton win, but that’s something he could say about any of my performers, he said.  On any given day, it could be anyone else depending on who is putting forth their best performance.

South also won the award for best solo performance.  A total of 40 soloists competed and Angela Dusina ’13 won the best soloist acclamation.

“I think it’s great that our choir department was successful in return to competition, because that’s not always the case with schools who take a break. I think now we have the experience and now we’re going to be that much further ahead when we do this in the future,” said Pratt. “The thing that I like about competition is that it has really unified them as a team; we get to go out and see the product you’re bringing to stage and how that relates to other schools, and it’s awesome that what we’re doing is at the top of competitions we’re going to.”