REVIEW: Men’s Glee Club Concert

On March 31, 2012 at Hill Auditorium, the Men’s Glee Club held their 152nd Annual Spring Concert. The concert had  nine separate portions that each displayed the strengths of the vocalists separately and as a whole. There were many traditional Chinese pieces performed during the seventh part of the program because the club is heading to China this summer to represent the immense talent of the choral groups here at the University of Michigan.

The club kicked off the concert with a classic song sung by the Men’s Glee Club, “Laudes atque Carmina”, which praises the University of Michigan. They continued with “A Passerby” by Byron Adams, which was sweet and soothing. The next piece, called given a body was commissioned by the club when they were given a generous grant from an anonymous alumnus. This piece was comprised of four movements and was written by Kristin Kuster, with lyrics by Megan LeVad. Kristin and Megan were clearly very thankful that they were chosen to commission this piece because it had a deep meaning to them and the Men’s Glee Club. It was deep, poetic, and diverse throughout its four movements. Next, the men performed two pieces by Stephen Chatman from There is Sweet Music Here. These pieces were natural and beautiful and were called “There is Sweet Music Here” and “Piping down the valleys wild.” They included haunting harmonies that were dissonant, but incredible.  Two more movements of given a body were performed next and they were just as lovely as the first two, but had different themes. The first half of the concert was finished by “Luck be a lady tonight” from Guys and Dolls. This piece was fun and energetic compared to the soothing pieces before it.

After intermission, The Friars, an a cappella group started by members of the Men’s Glee Club, performed a few tunes. The final song they sang was about Denard Robinson, everyone’s favorite quarterback and it had the crowd laughing out loud. The next portion of the program featured traditional Chinese selections as a celebration that the Men’s Glee Club will be going abroad to China this summer. A special guest, Zhang Ying, performed two solo pieces arranged by himself and accompanied the club. Zhang Ying played three interesting instruments, the gourd flute, the dizi, and the sheng. Each had its own distinct tone and was brilliantly designed so it was not only an instrument, but a work of art. Next, the group performed a Motown/Soul Medley including “The way you do the things you do”, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)”, “I’ll Be There”, and “Love Train/Baby, I need your lovin.'” This portion of the concert was very entertaining because the songs performed were classic hits and the men of the club had choreographed dance moves that they performed in sync. The program concluded with songs about the University of Michigan. These got the crowd in a great mood, because everyone loves to celebrate the wonderful opportunities and talents at U of M! After getting a standing ovation, the club invited all alumni present at the concert on stage. This giant group of men then sang “Hail to the Victors” (with the assistance of the audience of course).
Overall, this was a fantastic concert and got everyone excited for the Men’s Glee Club to show people of China the diversity and talent that exists at the University of Michigan. We wish the Men’s Glee Club safe travels and hope that they gain a rewarding experience from the trip as well as spread joy to everyone that they perform for!

To learn more about the Men’s Glee Club and their endeavors, check here:

REVIEW: Random Awesomeness!

Part of the Renegade series of UMS was Random Dance by Wayne McGregor and it was absolutely fabulous. There were many different styles and elements that made the piece shocking, interesting, and beautiful. The event was held on February 18 at 8pm and lasted a little over an hour (with no intermission). Sitting in the second row at the Power Center made me feel like I was in the action since I was so close to the stage. Throughout the piece, a board with multiple lights was used to capture moments of emotion.

The dance began with a few dancers holding torches and a duet between two dancers in nude, unrestrictive clothing, which made the dance seem natural, raw, and highly exposed. The first dance reminded me of birth in  a way because it seemed pure and innocent. This piece flowed smoothly into a more electronic and dark dance. The light board went crazy and flashed all over the place and the lights went down. The music quickly changed from opera-esque singing to club music that had strong bass. It was almost as if you could feel the music rather than hear it and it was clear that that was how the dancers felt as well.

The dancers had amazing interaction between each other; they could have been making up the whole dance as they went along. They had a visceral connection that was clear in the way that one dancer would move and prompt another. At one point in the performance, all of the dancers were on stage having what looked like a giant fight scene, which seemed choreographed but also improvised.

The lighting board played a big role in the mood of the show. It was such a versatile part of the performance in that it could be used to changed the feeling using shadows, bright lighting, and flashing. There was a part of the show where shadows of the lighting cast a sort of clock onto the board. The board was structural, electronic, and mobile, which was the perfect combination for it to be used as a backdrop for this very diverse performance.

Random Dance was entertaining but also made me think about what went into the production of this epic piece. The dancers and director must have found a great balance between control and improvisation and whoever was working the giant lighted structural piece contributed largely to the quality of the show!

More about the event can be found here:

REVIEW: Noises Off

Noises Off runs from February 16-19 and it is a wonderful play to see if you are in the mood for a laugh. I saw the play on February 16 and it was held at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. The set of the play was incredible and it looked so realistic. The synopsis of the play was that it was basically a play within a play and their were three different performances and perspectives portrayed. The cast included 9 actors, 6 of which were playing actors. The other three actors played the director, stage manager, and assistance manager.

The first act of the play gave an insight into the dress rehearsal of Nothing On, the play that was being put on by Otstar Productions Ltd. It was a great time because everything went wrong with the play although it was implied that a very small amount of time remained for the show to be fixed. The director of the play was furious and had a climactic shouting match with one of the actors which was thoroughly entertaining. The cast of the play included an arrogant and inarticulate man, a silly and ditzy lady, another man and woman, a house-sitter with her head in the clouds, and an alcoholic. There was a short intermission after the first act was over.

The second act of the play showed the audience the backstage workings of Nothing On, which was arguably more funny even than the first act. This showed even more disfunction as the characters brawled backstage or forgot their cues, and chaos ensued. The set was amazing in that it could be turned 180 degrees and work as the backstage set. The second set was just as beautiful as the first and the lighting change helped contribute to the backstage atmosphere. This showed a real performance of Nothing On that was a wreck. Although if it had been a real play I feel it still would have been entertaining because disfunction can be hilarious.

The third act of Noises Off disintegrated the quickest of the three acts because it was the most disorderly performances of the fictional play, Nothing On. This act was shown in the perspective of the audience of Nothing On like in the first act, but it was an actual performance of the play. The cast did not even make it through the entire play this time since so much went wrong. In fact, the stage managers even had to step in as part of the cast to cover for those who missed their cues.

Sometimes it is nice to see things go wrong in a play because it makes the cast feel more human and this play connected chaos with humor in a non-chaotic way. It is interesting to think about how difficult it must have been to do the out of sync actions in sync. This play obviously took a lot of practice and choreography and it came together beautifully!

To purchase tickets or learn more about Noises Off, check out this website:

REVIEW: Scorched

On February 11 at 7PM, I saw a performance that truly moved me. Roman Micevic’s Senior Directing Thesis of the play Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad was inspiring, heartbreaking, and beautifully done. I was not sure what the play would be like as I had not heard a synopsis or review by anyone but as soon as I walked into the theatre, I knew the play would be breathtaking. As the audience filed in and took their seats (which there were not enough of because of the large crowd), masked figures moved about slowly and intricately. The figures interacted subtly with each other and it was clear that the actors were very in sync.

There were four acts in Scorched: Nawal’s Fire, Childhood on Fire, Jannaane’s Fire, and Sarwane’s Fire. Each act put emphasis on certain characters and had a different emotional effect on the audience. The acts were all connected well and flowed smoothly into the next so that the audience could only guess when the next act was beginning.

“Nawal’s Fire” was a story of the beginnings of a family and a love story that was sad, but realistic. The play was clearly inspired by events that actually happen still today, which made the presentation that much more emotional for everyone involved. The first act was focused on the mother of the family that the play was about and her effects on the family. This act also introduced us to all of the main characters: Nawal and her children, Jannaane and Sarwane, as well as the notary of Nawal’s will who was a very silly character that added much comedic relief.

“Childhood on Fire” displayed Nawal’s journey through a war-torn country in the Middle East and it displayed the loss of innocence that many Middle Eastern children experience because of the violence of the wars. It also showed Nawal’s children’s lives and how they were in turn affected by Nawal’s childhood troubles. A main theme was the never-ending cycle of family tension.

“Jannaane’s Fire” was about Nawal’s daughter’s discover of Nawal’s past and hardships. This act revealed many shocking stories of Nawal’s past and explained the strain that Nawal had in raising her children. This act also brought out the tension between Jannaane and her brother Sarwane.

“Sarwane’s Fire” was the final act and it showed Sarwane’s realizations of his mother’s past and what his sister had discovered. The realizations changed Sarwane and resolved conflicts in the family that had existed for unexplained reasons.

The resolution of the play was horrific, but brilliant and overall the play was sad but realistic. Hopefully people that saw the play will see its message because Scorched revealed real world problems that have existed for a long time and are still around today. It would be great if everyone could see this amazing performance.

REVIEW: An Evening of Dance

Dancelucent 2012 was held by the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance on February 3 and it was held at the Power Center for the Performing Arts. The evening began with a piece called “Been a Long Time” which was very rock and roll and it included music by artists like Led Zeppelin and Frank Zappa. The piece was choreographed by Bill DeYoung and it was an experimentation of interactions between all of the dancers. There was a plot to the piece that could be interpreted by the audience and the dancers featured were confident and able to create emotions individually as well as through interactions with other dancers.  The seven movements of “Been a Long Time” each had a purpose and led smoothly into the next and the different songs used were of similar style.

The second piece was called “Forest Through the Trees,” was a repetitious, but diverse dance that was narrated by a woman portraying Gertrude Stein. The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein was read during the dance and the choreography followed the narration of the piece. There was an amazing video that accompanied the dancers by Peter Sparling and it made the perception of the piece altered in that there were so many different elements happening at once. The colors of the video were interesting and the dancers were featured in the video. Dancelucent gave the world premiere of this piece.

“Lightmotifs” also had its world premiere at Dancelucent. It was choreographed by Robin Wilson, who is an associate professor at the University of Michigan. This piece had a lighter feel to it and began with a very cute slumber party scene. At one point, there were some bicyclists riding around on stage! The final part of “Lightmotifs” had a gospel feeling to it and the costumes were vibrant and had great movement. The whole piece was very uplifting and was overall bright and cheery.

The final part of Dancelucent was Dance #1, which was based around a piece composed by Philip Glass. Lucinda Childs, who was involved in Einstein on the Beach with Philip Glass, choreographed Dance #1. As it was composed by Philip Glass, the dance featured elements of iteration. There were subtle changes with the music and it was fun to get lost in the piece but at the same time notice the changes every once in a while. Overall, the piece was interesting because it changed my perception of time and gave me an insight into the subtleties of Lucinda’s choreography.

Dancelucent was a diverse and beautiful event that displayed the great talent of the University of Michigan’s School of Dance through modern dance. The choreography was exceptional and it was great to see that our School of Dance does high quality work.

REVIEW: A Day of Glee

On January 7, 2012 at 4PM in the famous Hill Auditorium, many wonderful singers displayed their talents and filled the audience with joy. In this concert, high school students came together with the Women’s and Men’s Glee Clubs to get a preview of life at the University of Michigan and to show their talents to their older counterparts.

First, the mass men’s glee group performed. This was comprised of the high school boys and the Men’s Glee Club. They sang some very moving songs with great harmonies and Hill Auditorium provided a wonderful showcase of their amazing sound. Then the Men’s Glee Club performed some songs, which included a couple of dances and were very fun. During the Men’s Glee Club portion of the concert, The Friars (a sect of the Men’s Glee Club) performed some entertaining pieces that got the crowd going wild.

Next, the Women’s Glee Club joined forces with the high school girls visiting U of M and sang some songs that were both entertaining and beautiful. They had a distinctly different sound than the Men’s Glee Club, but both groups were full of talent and glee, of course. After performing with the high school visitors, the Women’s Glee Club took the stage to sing a few songs of their own. Some of the songs were in different languages, but it was just as easy to recognize the emotion of the pieces. A sect of the Women’s Glee Club performed as well and they were quirky and entertaining as well. Overall, it was interesting to see the differences and similarities between the Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs.

Both the Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs are performing abroad, which is a great representation for our school. The men are performing in China while the women are headed to South Africa. There will be amazing opportunities to display the talent of our school and I was glad to see such talented groups. Next time you hear about a Glee concert, go and support them because you really will be filled with joy upon hearing their amazing voices!

To see more about upcoming Glee events visit these websites:

Men’s Glee Club:

Women’s Glee Club: