Musicals Through The Ages: Vocal Group Showcase

Dylan O’Neill went to Musical Soc’s Vocal Group Showcase and was more than a little impressed. On Wednesday 29th March, UCD Musical Society hosted their annual Vocal Group Showcase in Astra Hall. The performance was attended by more than 150 people, a record breaking amount for the Showcase, consisting of students from inside and outside the society and the general public.This year, the theme of the Showcase was Musicals through the Ages, decided on by the two Vocal Group Directors, Hazel Madden and Mary McGowan. The theme was intended to highlight the evolution of the musical theatre from the very classical style of music to the more modern interpretations which have seen great success in recent years.Every Monday, the Vocal Group gathered and rehearsed from the beginning of Semester 2 to the middle of week 8, with weekend bootcamps thrown in to add the final polish to each routine.As Vocal Group is a non-audition based show choir, it was phenomenal to see a cast of 55 students commit week-in, week-out, to produce a truly wonderful show. And judging by the standing ovation of the audience after the final bows, it is safe to say I wasn’t alone in thinking it.The show had runtime of approximately 2 hours with a 15-minute interval, in which the cast performed numbers from 17 of well-known and lesser known musical gems. The opening number of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” performed by the entire cast, perfectly set the mood of the show as lighthearted and enjoyable for all the audience.As the show progressed, more and more cast members had their moment in the spotlight with solo performances that displayed the talent of acting and singing within the society. Mary Haasl, Kate McBrearty and Barry O’ Donoghue performed songs from South Pacific, The King and I and Blood Brothers, respectively. However, they were not the only ones to receive solos, as in keeping with the group’s ethos of fairness and inclusion, many more students sang their hearts out with the support of a larger ensemble to create a thoroughly enjoyable spectacle. Most notably, Michael Tuohy and Taylor Fewer as Monsieur and Madame Thénardier from Les Misérables and Sarah Burke Vaughan as Roxie Hart from Chicago, added delightful comedic performances to the overall show.But the singing was only one part of show to comment on. The choreography was brilliantly put together and energetic, and the costumes were fitting for the setting of each of the period musicals. All of which was organized by the highly professional Vocal Group subcommittee, who were involved both onstage and backstage during the show, which really added to the smooth transitions of each song, making the transitions from the various different musicals almost seamless.What I particularly found amazing about this year’s Showcase was the number of first years to the society that took part. A significantly large proportion of the cast was made up of students who are new to the musical society this year, which is brilliant to witness as it secures the societies’ place in UCD, with the incredible talent that these students have to carry it through subsequent sessions.It also means I don’t want to go after ANY of them when auditioning for a show.Having been the MC for the Vocal Group Showcase last year, I was in tears of laughter with Adam Donnelly’s artistic interpretation of the role of MC, as he chose to pay homage to the silent movie era and adopt the persona of Charlie Chaplin. Complete with flashcards and bowler hat, he had the audience in stitches introducing the next segment of the showcase without ever saying a word, a trait for anyone who knows Adam, is not what he’s most known for. It was a marvelous idea and brilliantly executed.The final number of the show focused on the future of musical theatre, and so it was only fitting that it would be none other than “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” from the revolutionary musical Hamilton. The beautiful harmonies from the cast, and the featured soloists of Mairead Bond, Kate-Leigh Farrell, Eoghan Walsh, Brian Walsh and Joey Conlon, gave a well-rounded closing number that had everybody feeling hopeful for the future.The Vocal Group Showcase was well received by audience members and started the weekend off on a high note for the musical society who are hosting the second annual Musical Theatre Intervarsities Competition from the 30th March to today, the 1st April.