Vocal Effect, Oswego State’s fifteen-member student-run show choir, brought their range of talents to Waterman Theatre in a concert on Jan. 30. The fifteen-song show featured “hit songs made famous by artists in their twenties,” including artists ranging from Smokey Robinson and The Jacksons to Bruno Mars and Imagine Dragons. In a special treat for the audience, 11 of those 15 songs featured vocal arrangements done by members of Vocal Effect and the group managed all of the choreography throughout the show.
The show started off at a moderate pace with a medley of “P.Y.T/ Treasure” by Michael Jackson/Bruno Mars and “Valerie” by Bruno Mars. Things began to pick up with “Warrior” by Demi Lovato. Soprano Ashley Domenech took the stage alone and delivered the song without a hitch. The next pair of songs, One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” and Christina Aguilera’s shuffle throwback “Candyman” featured the men and the women of the group respectively and were cute and pleasing.
“Demons” by Imagine Dragons was next. Featuring eight soloists, it was the best number of the night. The choreography was unique and complemented the song and the lighting exquisitely. The energy of the vocalists in this song was unmatched, particularly the belting high note at the end of tenor-baritone Lawrence Senecal’s solo. Senecal also serves as the group’s de facto vocal director.
“We had a really great crowd,” Senecal said. “Not to be cliché or anything… it brought out the best (from everyone) and they were just having fun.”
The first set before intermission ended with an all-male version of “Roar” by Katy Perry, featuring Zachary Riley, Senecal, and Aaron Caraco, and a girls’ duet of Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” The former still managed to be effective despite a choreography slip that made the audience giggle and a lowered key for the guys. The latter was a solid end to the first half.
The second act did not get off to the same start as the first. “Blame It On the Boogie” by The Jacksons could have used a little more funk sound from the singers. The second song, “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane, featured the host of the evening, Michael Tarasoff. The audience would only see more of him before the end of the second act, when he appeared onstage with a tight pink T-shirt, fishnet leggings, turquoise bike shorts and his dress socks and shoes. Tarasoff claimed to be wearing this outfit the whole night under his shirt and tie.
“That was kind of a running joke throughout the rehearsals,” Senecal said. “We didn’t think he was going to show up and do that. He just walked on stage with it.”
The next two songs showed off the women. The first was a solo performance of “Still Into You” by Paramore from alto Amanda Joseph, who is also the group’s choreography director, with Riley as her dance partner. The second featured Angela Russell and a trio of background singers in the Motown style performing “Who’s Loving You” by Smokey Robinson. The latter, along with “Candyman” were well received as a break from the pop-heavy program.
The final four songs of the concert were “Mercy” by Duffy, “Crazy/You Drive Me Crazy” by Aerosmith/Britney Spears, “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine and “Applause” by Lady Gaga. While the majority of these passed without a significant highlight, the end of the “Crazy” medley ended with a tender kiss on stage between soloists Senecal and Joseph.
“We only did it once in rehearsal,” Joseph said on the kiss. “We thought the song needed something else so when the time came, it felt like the thing to do.”
“I think they did a great job,” said Mihoko Tsutsumi, the new choir director and voice teacher of Oswego State’s music department. “[It was] well-organized and the selection of music was good. They did a wonderful job.”
Some of her voice students, including Joseph, are in the choir.
“I truly enjoy it,” said Tsutsumi, regarding the difference between their pop singing and the classical material they do in lessons. “I watch it like a mom. I don’t listen to it critically.”