Chorus lines for charity
There are few better ways to spend a Saturday night than to participate in something fun and feel good about doing it. Last Saturday, over a thousand Carnegie Mellon students, alumni, and parents took the opportunity to do just that.
They crowded into Pittsburgh?s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall to attend one of the biggest Greek life events of the year, Greek Sing. Featured on the bill for the evening were thirteen different fraternities and sororities performing nine different musical presentations. Each performance lasted fifteen minutes and ranged from classic musicals like ?Bye Bye Birdie? and ?Gypsy? to adaptations of movies Old School and Zoolander, as well as an original piece on the merging of hip-hop and rock and a Parliament Funkadelic tribute band.
Each performance reflected a large amount of talent, hard work, and organization (it takes a lot of effort to teach fifty people to tap-dance). What may have even further inspired people to attend, however, was that the entire event was for charity. Each organization was responsible for raising money prior to the performance for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and all ticket sales also went to the Society. The atmosphere inside the hall was completely noncompetitive, and not only was the audience highly entertained, but they were also giving to a good cause.
Fraternities and sororities either paired up for performances or went solo, and were formally judged in a double or single category. Each show was evaluated according to music, dance, overall production, and organization. Based on those qualifications, it must have been very hard to decide; almost all of the performances were good enough to be produced in a quality amateur theater.
The highlights of the evening were indubitably the selections from Newsies performed by Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Chicago performed by Kappa Delta Rho and Kappa Alpha Theta, and Fame performed by Phi Kappa Theta and Delta Gamma. If you have ever seen any of these musicals either in their stage or film versions, you are aware of the ridiculous amount of complicated choreography and musical talent needed to make them work.
Each group pulled them off without a hitch. The choreography was either taken directly from the original production or slightly adapted, which is no small feat; the dance set to the song ?Seize the Day? from Newsies is considered to be one of the most demanding musical sequences in film, yet it was almost perfect when Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sig Ep attacked it. They were the winners for the doubles category. The athleticism in Chicago and Fame was also impressive; in particular the sequence from ?We Both Reached for the Gun? and ?Dancin? On the Sidewalk.? In ?We Both Reached for the Gun,? a mass of journalists dangled as if on marionette strings while Roxie Hart sat primly on Billy Flynn?s knee. In Fame?s ?Dancin? On the Sidewalk,? a group of 1980s street dancers competed fiercely with an elegant throng of ballerinas. It truly looked as if every person on the stage had been taking dance since they were three. Even more impressive, every dancer was able to sing clearly and well while moving.
Not to be looked over in the doubles category was Delta Delta Delta and Alpha Epsilon Pi?s rendition of ?Bye Bye Birdie.? They didn?t have quite as many people as the other groups, which made for a little less volume, but they still turned out an excellent performance.
With only fifteen minutes to perform, these groups succeeded partially because they had so many people to work with. The work that went into choreographing as many as three or four dozen people must have been staggering, but each group had plenty of singing and dancing talent to put in the forefront. The sets and costumes were also professional-grade.
Overall, the singles categories were not designed to blow the audience out of their seats the way the doubles were, but that may have been the result of just a few less people. Zeta Psi Sigma?s production of ?Gypsy? was the winner for singles, and rightly so ? it had stylish, fun choreography and good singers, as well as a beautiful handmade set and costumes. The orchestra was all-female and in full costume, which added a nice touch. Theta Xi?s original production titled ?Converge? was centered around rival clubs who eventually merged their styles of hip-hop and rock ?n? roll to perform Aerosmith and Run DMC?s version of ?Walk This Way.? Also, the fact that performer Michael Shaw took the time to accurately redraw Anthony Kiedis?s tattoos on his own arms showed a real effort at making the performance as complete as possible.
A particularly accompished performance, however, was Beta Theta Pi?s musical adaptation of Zoolander. This particular take on incredibly, incredibly good-looking Ben Stiller?s film was incredibly, incredibly funny, and the imitations of Will Ferrell as Mugatu and Owen Wilson as Hansel were dead-on. Unfortunately for Beta, they went over their fifteen-minute time limit and the lights went out on them right in the middle of the assassination of the Malaysian Prime Minister. This was booed by most of the audience.
The fun did not stop after the last performance, however. While the audience waited for the judge?s decision, they were treated to Step Outside, a three-member step team who performed with what looked like giant candy canes. They were excellent.
In retrospect, it seems unfair to judge each performance, or even to write this review about them. Each fraternity and sorority spent an amazing amount of time and dedication in making sure their performance went off as well as it could. There were virtually no mistakes, and the three hours flew by.