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July 24, 2009

Fringe Festival: The A Cappella Party


There's just something endearing about watching two earnest college a cappella groups vie to win the big competition, squabbling and smooching their way through school in the process.

It's what lies behind the appeal of such works as Disney's High School Musical and Fox's "Glee" series, and helps to make The A Cappella Party a fun way to spend an hour during this year's Fringe festival. Sure, the plot's kind of thin (so was High School Musical's) and the characters easily fit into cliches. But just try not to smile as the two singing groups settle their score at a local bar with a "Drunkapella" faceoff (yes, dorky rapping is involved) or when the school playa and the uber-competitive, Tracy Flick type tumble around and confess their affection for each other in the buoyant "I Can't Resist You."

Not every singer has a solo-worthy voice, and some songs veer into wince-worthy territory (particularly, the closer "It Takes Two"). But "The A Capella Party" has its share of winning performers, most of them high school and college aged. Melanie Kurstin brings a welcome fiestiness to Natalie, one of the more brusque members of the troupe, and the sweet voiced Jonathan Lowey is a strong vocal presence as the ingenue character Tony.

But every a cappella geek out there in the audience is really just urging for a satisfying medley number, and the show delivers pretty well here, incorporating harmonic versions of everything from "Stacey's Mom" to "Bye Bye Bye" into the climactic routine. But couldn't they have thrown in a rendition of Toto's "Africa", too, just for me?

Tickets and info.

Posted by acapnews at July 24, 2009 12:08 AM


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