Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: ‘The A Cappella Party’

100_1245462998The A Cappella Party
Warehouse – Mainstage

Remaining performances:
Wednesday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 25 at 4 p.m.
Sunday, July 26 at 12 p.m.

They say: Young lovers, Tony & Julie, get caught up in the competitive world of college a cappella. Both audition for Timbuktu University's most prestigious (and rival) groups. Will the intense rivalry and hatred between the groups be enough to tear young love apart?

Aaron's take: Before I begin, I should confess that I entered this show with my fair share of biases. I sang a cappella throughout my time in college — all five years of it. I have participated in the genre at its most orthodox and its most subversive. I have serenaded royalty and national television audiences, and I have performed sans sartorial constraint in front of — well, too many people to count.

The point is, I expected "The A Cappella Party" to strike a chord with me — or, more likely, to hit a nerve. And it did a little of each. It was a stroll down that grimy stretch of Memory Lane that you try to avoid past a certain hour but that still has its charms. All the old familiar places were there: the endless auditions where you pray for decent singers but secretly prefer the comically tone-deaf ones; the intra-group incest and its peculiar aftermath; and the age-old inter-group rivalries (though lacking in the one-sided hijinks to which I'm accustomed).

And so it's not easy for me to step back and assess the reactions a non-a cappella (read: normal) person might have to this show. An all-a cappella musical is an intriguing concept, and the cast pulls it off impressively, complete with harmonized ditties during set changes. But an a cappella show about a cappella is another story indeed, and one for which many people will have little patience.

So what's the show like? Think West Side Story — only replace the racial strife with a bitter singing group rivalry and the rumble with an A Cappelloff. Oh, and the orchestra with some doo-wop. But keep most of the strengths: the elegant singing (particularly from the two leads), the colorful characters, and that mischievous sense of fun.

This is a show that manages to trump an uninspired script and uneven songwriting by riding high on its talented performers and refreshing energy. It's not the kind of singing experience I would have wanted in college, but it was still an hour well spent.

See it if: You don't have a gag reflex for beat boxing. I sorta do.

Skip it if: You prefer singers with the fashion sense of these dapper gents (yup, shameless self-promotion again):

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