BWW Reviews: VOCALOSITY An Unrivaled A Capella Concert Experience
Deke Sharon, of Pitch Perfect fame and the moniker 'the father of contemporary a capella', has lassoed in ten of the most talented young performers, Sean Curran (original cast of Stomp) for choreography, and the impeccable Sound Designer and technical director Tony Huerta to invent the most creative, invigorating concert performance since Madonna first hit the stage. A journey of a capella, musical history, love, humor, and mind-numbing vocal talent, Vocalosity is the musical power-group you never knew you needed.
Utilizing the staple arrangement techniques that made him famous, Sharon's musical selection is delightful, quirky, and poppy as can be... in the first act. After a smooth, if predictable, first act, Sharon flips the bill and gives a second set of unbelievable movement and song, medleys beyond imagination, soulful melodies that integrate each performer's heart into the brilliant concert.
The vocalists of Vocalosity are as varied and diverse as their musical selection. James C. Jones, a bass who has collaborated with both Flava Flav and Miranda Sings, brings humor, uncontained energy to his songs, whether they be Bust a Move or behind the group in Uptown Funk. Tenor Cheeyang Ng (winner of Singapore's Campus Superstar) delights over the top of the men, a blinding range that never fails to delight.
The women of the group are just as phenomenal, from Hannah Juliano's haunting When Doves Cry to Nattalyee Randall's deeply moving Alto gospel performance. Nicole Weiss is the mezzo voice of an angel, leading a quartet performance of Hallelujah that pains the soul.
The show moves from a typical concert-esque act one, featuring a slew of hilariously bad a capella puns, a medley of Beatles songs to show the growth of a capella from Grigorian roots to doo wop, the predictable (yet still engaging) pop smashes, but the energy never falters from the non-stop rocking vocalists. The highlight of the first slice comes in the Motown Love Medley, a collection of Motown classics that take an entire journey through the life of a love story, with laughs, dancing, and breathless switches between countless hits.
It's in Tracy L.J. Robertson's vocal percussion, an insane talent, that the show first deviates- in a strange division, Robertson cuts audiences into percussion sounds he teaches, and begins to sway, playing the audience as his own personal drum kit. As it builds in speed and difficulty, he transfers the sounds back to himself into a small solo, which is only a taste of what's to come.
The second half is dazzling, emotional, and pulse pounding all at once. Any a capella group hoping to stand their own after Vocalosity came to light will have to learn how to play a distortion guitar, full drum kit, and bass to match the classic rock vocal set-up devised for an arrangement of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love, where Amy Whitcomb positively brings the house down with a soprano rock belt that screams enough to kick Robert Plant awake. A percussion battle between Robertson and tenor RJ Woessner begins (a tenor who can also do percussion? And performs a distortion guitar with his voice?), before growing to include bass Bryant Vance, and finally, Sound Designer Tony Huerta, in an unbelievable shift around audiences.
Sharon has arranged the greatest number in musical theatre history, along with his a capella talents, in his Sound of Music Medley, where an exasperated Kelli Koloszar becomes Maria as the ensemble rushes through the messy Rogers &and Hammerstein plot.
Vocalosity's show takes a final turn to the more serious, gradually escaping the child-friendly openings to reflect the heart of some performers. Randall is the first, telling a story of growth and success through song. Then comes Ng, telling of his persecution and struggles in Singapore, culminating in Born This Way that sheds many happy tears. Weiss follows, giving a strong story of fighting against those that keep dreams down. To round it out, Robertson told of his family, love, connection through a barbershop quartet.
A night with Vocalosity rounds out through a familiar Pitch Perfect arrangement we won't presume spoil, and a return to a capella roots. Each performer sets their microphone on the lip of the stage, gathers, and performs unassisted by amplification. Fix You runs under the skin, into the mind, into the heart, and pours out through tears at the beauty of the sheer musical creation that has been brought together.
Vocalosity continues their tour through the rest of 2017, tickets and more information can be found online. Vocalosity's debut album is available for purchase and streaming now.