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Beach Café variety show provides many laughs

 A few minutes into Cal State Long Beach’s latest musical variety show “The Beach Café,” the crowd howled in laughter after, just minutes prior, they had been smiling and lazily bobbing their heads to the melodious voices of the University Choir.

Presented by the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, “The Beach Café” oozed of quality instrumentation, rich vocals and silly musical numbers that kept attendees entertained for the full two-hour production. Held at the Gerald R. Daniel Recital Hall on both Friday and Saturday night, the show attracted a decently sized crowd of students, family and friends alike.

The production began with an operatic-like chorus of 74 students known as the University Choir who performed a collection of hits entitled “Porgy and Bess Medley.” Alternating between males and females, the bass and tenor voices provided a sweet sounding contrast to the alto and soprano voices. When in unison together, their harmonies flowed fluently.

After such a quiet start to the night, it was a surprise to hear the audience respond in uproarious laughter to an act that blatantly parodied boy bands.

The a capella, slow ballad entitled “Title of This Song” was performed by six male students who successfully captured the cheesiness and overdramatization of songs from every popular boy band from the ’90s. With lyrics that simply explained the structure of a love song like “drop to my knees and elicit crowd response” and, what came at the end of every chorus, “repetition of the title of this song,” the wit and originality left an imprint on the crowd.

Although the sketch appeared third on the show’s program, whispers of approval could still be heard as the crowd wafted off to their cars at the end of the night.

Some students chose to perform on their own. Reilly Jennings proved that it was possible to shine without a backing group. Her rendition of “Alto’s Lament” rang with near perfect pitch, but also gained snickers from those who paid attention to the lyrics which spoofed a Broadway starlet who is a soprano, but always gets stuck singing the alto parts. Accompanied only by a piano, Jennings’ mellifluous vocals transitioned into big, glory notes with ease.

Donning a red leather jacket, reminiscent of the one in the “Thriller” music video, L’Marco Smith performed Michael Jackson’s “Got Me Working Day and Night.” To accompany the jacket, Smith perfected Jackson’s signature dance moves and inserted them throughout the song. Clearly the most energetic of the night, Smith desperately scurried from one side of the stage to the other, encouraging audience participation by clapping his hands above his head. Sure to leave the audience in high spirits before intermission, by the end, Smith had jumped off the stage and began slapping hands with the front row.

When intermission was called, the masses flocked out of the recital hall and a buzz was in the air among students.

“There was so much talent on stage, but I’m surprised at how much I’ve laughed tonight,” sophomore communications major Erika Moreno said. “It’s great because they seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves.”

Upon returning from intermission, The Chamber Choir performed two songs, one being the powerful opera number “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves,” which was, as the title suggests, sung in Hebrew. Standing in the center of the audience alongside the conductor, a man quickly flashed printed-out cue cards to presumably remind the singers of pronunciation and accentuation, finishing the number with a final cue card that simply contained a flurry of exclamation points.

“The production is a fun experience.,” senior music education major Brittany Lark said. “It gives the opera students a chance to do today’s music and show off their own styles more than classical music would.” Lark performed in the skit entitled “Tale of Three Gals” in which two other girls joined her in a mimicry of country girl stereotypes. At one point in the song, the girls sang about drinking beer on every day of the week, crooning, “We’re drinking cold beer on Friday in our car, on the way to school.” Accompanied by a cow bell, a washboard, spoons and a classic jug like in the old western groups, the sketch caused several spurts of giggles from the crowd.

While many chose to cover comedic songs, others took the chance to perform their own original compositions for the public. In particular, Maggie Boles’ folksy tune “The Bee Song,” appealed to the masses with sugary lyrics like “I’m a bee, you’re a bee / Let’s go make some honey.” Its quick-paced style and two-beat rhythm caused many to subconsciously tap their toes to the sound.

“‘The Bee Song’ was adorable and really unique. It was the lyrics that made it so cute. I was impressed that she wrote it herself,” Julia Dowell, who was there in support of her sister Maria Dowell, said. “[The show] was great entertainment. All of the musicians were really energetic and fun to watch, as a whole.”

 

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