Monday, February 20, 2012

Great River Revelry

My oldest son and I made the trek over to Davenport, Iowa for the show choir competition hosted by Davenport Central and West high schools which is apparently now known simply as Great River.  In the old days it was always called the Great River Revelry (say that ten times fast) and people always sounded like they were drunk when they tried to say it.

I honestly usually never travel to other show choir events on the weekends when my group isn't competing, but oddly I've done it twice this year.  This trip I had to drive from Des Moines down to Pella to pick up Jake from Central College before heading over to Davenport which turned what should have been a 2.5 hour drive into about a 3.5 hour drive. 

It was a pretty simple trip and we made it to the Adler Theater by about 11:00.  We were trying to make it there in time to see a couple of the better prep groups we hadn't gotten to see yet this year, Linn-Mar's "In Step" and Cedar Rapids Kennedy's "Protege."  We were just a couple of minutes too late to make it into the theater for "In Step," but no worries, "Protege" was who we really wanted to see.  We made our way into the theater at the end of the current group's performance and found some seats on the floor.  The next group was busy setting up for their performance when the emcee announced that the next group up was "City Lights" from Iowa City High School.

Confused I checked the schedule in our program and discovered that Iowa City was supposed to perform 45 minutes earlier.  I quickly tweeted at a friend of mine I knew had been there all morning and asked if the schedule was messed up or were they really 45 minutes behind.  He replied that Iowa City and Kennedy had swapped spots, so "Protege" had already gone.  Bummer!  The next group we really wanted to see didn't perform until around 1:00, so we headed off to find some lunch.

When we returned we decided the view would be better from the balcony so we found some prime seats up there that we planned to occupy for the remainder of the afternoon.  We were smack in the middle of a section inhabited by parents from Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Linn-Mar.  "Good," I thought, "I like the parents from both of those schools so this should be just fine."  I was wrong.

The Cedar Rapids Kennedy mom behind me had no clue what good concert etiquette was...or she just didn't care.  She talked through every single performance.  Not whispered...talked...full volume.  It didn't matter how many times me or the Linn-Mar mom next to me turned around and shot her dirty looks.  She was either oblivious or just didn't care.  I suspect a combination of both. of the main reasons we made the trip was to see Wheaton-Warrenville South "The Classics" from the Chicago area.  They are considered one of the best groups around and in fact were crowned the national champion by the Fame show choir competition network last year.  Their show this year is Wizard of Oz themed, but doesn't cop out to any songs actually from The Wizard or Oz or Wicked.  The only one that is from something else related to the movie is "Ease on Down the Road" from The Wiz.  Other than that it is all songs like "Free Ride" by the Edgar Winters Group.

Now...there is a great debate raging in parts of the show choir world over traditional style shows common in the midwest versus the new story based shows more common on the west coast.  For me, Wheaton's show is the perfect blend of the two styles.  It is true to the traditional while still telling a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end.  Also, those kids dance and sing incredibly well.  After a performance for a group like theirs you often hear comments like, "I don't think that is show choir" or "I don't like that kind of show" or "I'm confused, what was that...".

Saturday was no exception.  In fact an older couple in front of me turned around after their performance and said, "Our friends tell us you're a director from another Iowa show choir.  What did you think of that show?  To us it seems like it doesn't fit the parameters of the competition. It's kind of not fair."  I told them that I liked anything that moved the medium forward and repeated what I said above.  They seemed pleased with that explanation.

Wheaton wound up winning the grand championship this weekend with a Best Choreography award, but Best Vocals went to Waukee "Millennium" from the Des Moines area.  I completely agree with all of those selections.

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