The Shippensburg University Concert Choir came together to perform SU’s first ever cabaret concert at Old Main Chapel on Saturday.
The songs performed were from popular movies and Broadway musicals such as “Hercules,” “Wicked,” “Funny Girl” and many more. Each student musician was given creative freedom to choose what song they would like to perform.
Elizabeth Shoenfelt, director of SU’s choir, accompanied piano for some songs during the show. Shoenfelt welcomed the idea that the concert would give the singers the opportunity to branch out from songs they are used to performing.
“This is something that has never been done before, but I think it provides a wonderful opportunity to showcase many of our fine singers here at Shippensburg who otherwise don’t have any place to get to sing this type of repertoire,” Shoenfelt said. “A choir concert is one thing, but an evening where students get to sing their favorite pieces from musicals, as well as pop tunes, is something entirely different.”
One notable aspect of the cabaret is that it was headed by the students. Shoenfelt gave all the credit for this event to her choir officers.
“This has truly been a student-led event. All of the brainstorming and the organization and execution were carried out by choir officers, in particular our choir secretary Madeline Shuler,” Shoenfelt said. “I have been able to take a backseat and watch the officers pull together what is sure to be an unforgettable event, and that makes me extremely proud.”
The concert might not have happened without the work of Shuler.
Shuler, a communication/journalism major, had similar experience with an event in high school, and had no problem taking the lead when it came to Saturday’s show.
“I brought up the idea to our officers over the summer, and I took it upon myself to just start organizing the whole thing.
“You get to see what our musical interests are because everyone got to pick what song they wanted to do,” she said. “You could really see some of the personalities coming out more than anything.”
The singers had fun with their performances. Some dressed up, some used props and others danced. The first 10 songs of the night served as a friendly competition between the choirmates as they performed solos and duets.
The audience got to vote on their favorite performance during intermission by donating money into jars that corresponded with the songs performed. The proceeds from the donations are going toward the group’s May trip to Ireland.
Junior Toby Hodges won the contest with his rendition of “Lost in the Wilderness” from the 1991 musical, “Children of Eden.” Hodges has been looking forward to the event for quite a while.
“The songs that I’m singing are ones that I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time. This is really cool that I finally get to actually perform them,” Hodges said.
Last Saturday’s cabaret is a stark contrast to the concert choir’s performance of Handel’s “Messiah” last November. Hodges was on board with the change of pace.
“The overall idea was to be more fun and get the audience involved because we’re choir — we normally do fairly serious stuff,” he said.
The tone of each song varied as the night went on. Some were more upbeat and had the audience singing along, while others were more powerful. Shuler, who also performed during the night, values the feelings that a song can evoke within the audience.
“I’ve always been told by directors that you never know how a song is going to resonate with someone. It might bring up a happy memory, it might bring up a sad memory,” she said.
A few more songs were performed after the intermission before all the choir members walked onstage. Shuler was surprised by her fellow choir members with flowers as a thank you for all the work she put in.
The singers ended the night with a group rendition of the Irish track “Danny Boy” to commemorate the concert choir’s upcoming tour of Ireland.