The University Chorale and Chamber Singers stunned the audience last Friday and Saturday with their sold-out Broadway showcase channeling songs from popular musicals and movies in Dailey Theatre.
Guests listened to the familiar tunes from musicals like “Mamma Mia,” “The Greatest Showman,” “Jersey Boys” and “Hairspray.”
The singers were accompanied by a band with keyboardist Sandra Nam, guitarist Danny Anaya, bassist Sean Barrett and percussionist Peter Garcia II.
Both the chamber and chorale singers have been preparing all semester long for this showcase.
A similar performance was held two years ago that also brought a large audience. Irene Messoloras, assistant professor of music and choral conductor, felt it was time for another Broadway inspired show.
Messoloras said that she puts a great deal of thought into her song-choosing process.
“We wanted a lot of variety and different styles of musical theater,” Messoloras said. “I was interested in songs that had a strong female ingénue or a male lead that had a big choral center.”
The most important quality was that the songs were fun and entertaining, Messoloras said.
Messoloras wanted to ensure that the songs would not only be interesting for the audience to watch, but also for the musicians to perform.
Messoloras had all 26 of her students dancing in tap shoes, and for most of them it was their first time.
“Trying to do something different really pushes us and makes everyone work harder,” Messoloras said.
For many of the chorale and chamber singers, this was their first time combining their singing ability with acting.
“I hadn’t done any kind of musical theater since I was 12, so it was intimidating to incorporate the theater aspect into the traditional standing in risers and singing that I’m used to,” said Ryan Chaney, a junior kinesiology major.
A chorale singer and recent graduate, Valerie Trujillo, was excited for her solo in the final number, “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen.”
“‘Dear Evan Hansen’ is my favorite musical at the moment,” Trujillo said. “It means so much to me, so to be able to portray that emotion and give that to the audience is the best part.”
Regardless of Trujillo’s enthusiasm, she still had some nerves leading up to her performance.
“Knowing that you have an entire choir depending on you to hold up the song is nerve-racking. You don’t want to disappoint them, this is your team,” Trujillo said. “But having their support and them helping me through it means a lot.”
Audience member and recent graduate, Lynsea Myers, loved the energy in the room. Her favorite song was the opening of the second act, “The Greatest Show” from “The Greatest Showman.”
“The Greatest Showman” is an original musical that depicts P.T. Barnum, a man in show business, who overcomes obstacles and discrimination to showcase a fantastic, worldwide performance.
In the song “The Greatest Show,” Barnum hands off his business responsibilities to his partner saying, “The show must go on.”
“All of the performers seemed like they were having so much fun,” Myers said. “It was very interactive, they wanted the crowd to feel like they were in the same world as the characters.”
The Chamber Singers are teaming up next with the Mountainside Chorale for the “Bach to Beatles” June 8 and 9 at the Claremont United Church of Christ.
Savannah Dingman can be reached at email@example.com.