The St. Cloud State Concert Choir held a cabaret variety show at the Pioneer Place on Fifth Theatre on Sunday. The music-based event featured current and former members of the concert choir performing both original songs and covers. A silent auction of novelties and crafts began an hour before the performance, with the money earned going towards the SCSU’s music program. The winners of the auction were announced before the final performance of the night: a singalong of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It was a crowd-pleasing night as parents of performers got to witness their children’s work firsthand.
The cabaret began at 7 p.m., with a performance by a recent SCSU graduate. It was an acoustic parody of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” but singing about being in Minnesota rather than the original state of West Virginia. One notable change was the editing of the lyric “Mountain mama” to “uff-da-mama.” It was an interesting and clever twist on a classic country track, and it left the audience chuckling and relating to the Minnesotan cliches such as mosquitoes and cold weather. Some other notable performances were two ukulele performances by Caleb Kopp, supposedly written “on an island” and “on a different island,” respectively.
Not every performance in the two-hour show was cheerful and upbeat; some of the performances depicted the ideas of suicide, depression, and insecurity. A duet sung by guitarist Ryan Alexander and singer Tiana Parks told the story of what seemed to be two people in love committing suicide. Even some of the songs that didn’t clearly depict sadness sounded somber and serious. These works were some of the stronger of the night, in my opinion, singing about a bold subject with emotion and clarity.
Along with the Denver parody and the “Don’t Stop Believin” singalong, there were also some notable covers. Singer Ryan Egan came onstage clad in a Dio shirt and wearing a Slash-like long, black wig and performed a screeching version of “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” a heavy metal song by Dio. Amber Rose performed a slower acoustic version of the Beatles’ song “Come Together.” Finally, there was a powerful rendition of “The Acoustic Song” by the rock band The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, performed by Alexander with, you guessed it, an acoustic guitar. All of the covers were easily distinguishable as their original works but each contained a sense of identity. The Dio cover conveyed both humor and energy, the “Come Together” cover showed large amounts of poise, and the cover of “The Acoustic Song” displayed visceral vocal power, with the singer’s voice raising towards the end of the song.
The last of the performances was the previously mentioned Journey singalong, with every performer from the night taking the stage to help lead everyone in synchronous vocals. Audience members were asked to turn flashlights on their phone on to imitate lighters like a large-scale concert. Some audience members joined in on the singing, including yours truly, with zero shame.
Introducing the performances was an M.C. who provided comedic and lighthearted entertainment, and he served as a representative of the concert choir, taking time to thank the Pioneer Place on Fifth Theater for hosting their event and announcing gift card awards for a random drawing of donations. An open bar and concessions were provided along with the variety show. These little things helped make the night even more memorable.
All-in-all, the members of the student concert choir should be proud of their performance. Putting on a crisp and enjoyable show in the name of fundraising is never easy, and their training is obviously showing in their work. Whether it was involving guitars, ukuleles, or just using powerful vocals (“A Whole New World”, especially), every performance found a way to stand out and show what they had to offer. In this writer’s opinion, the Pioneer Place on Fifth Theatre should continue to host performances by this group.