Voice majors leave audience in stitches

Ethan Crystal entertains the audience in his role as Detective Geoffrey Hansen. (credit: Amy Tsien/) Ethan Crystal entertains the audience in his role as Detective Geoffrey Hansen. (credit: Amy Tsien/)

Kresge Theatre was filled with uproarious laughter last Thursday at a production written and produced by the School of Music sophomore vocal performance class, The Curious Murder of a Person Not Particularly Liked. Convocation is a requirement for all students in the School fo Music, but instead of a standard formal performance of one solo after another, the students comically arranged classic songs into a musical that swept the crowd away. Every scene had its own unique and standout character.

The story follows the mysterious death of an abhorred hotel owner and manager, Rick Felicino (played by Grant Braider). Detective Geoffrey Hansen (Ethan Crystal) leads an investigation into Rick’s death and the quirky community that surrounded him, which bridges into a series of hysterical character studies. The show concludes with the reveal of the villain’s identity, which comes as a huge surprise to both the audience and the characters on stage.

The performance kicked off with a Beauty and the Beast favorite, “Be Our Guest,” which welcomed the highly engaged audience and also invited the enthusiastic cast to the stage. The hype of the first number was followed by “Master of the House” — recently revived by the film adaptation of Les Misérables — which introduced the community and the situation. One by one, each student showcased his or her solo piece, often accompanied in harmony by the other actors.

The hilarious incorporation of Carnegie Mellon School of Music inside jokes into the lyrics made each piece relatable to many of the students in attendance. Jokes included references to eurhythmics class, the BXA program, and the question, “Did you shower?” Waves of laughter came one after another.

Joel Goodloe’s performance of “Memory” elicited even more laughter when Goodloe unexpectedly broke into a joyous tap dance in the middle of this all-time classic, prompting another wave of cheers. The captivating performances continued with John Teresi’s performance of Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” in which he dramatically acted out a rebellious teenager pursuing his passion of music despite the challenges he encounters.

Joanna Latini, Stephanie Ramos, and Campbell Rogers each embodied strong and distinctive characters through pieces with modified lyrics; their performances, in particular, were hysterical. Ramos’ rendition of “Contigo en la Distancia” (accompanied by Braider on acoustic guitar) was in Spanish, and though the majority of the audience could not speak or understand the language, Ramos’ synchronized voice, facial expression, and body movements were alluring.

After a few more entertaining vocal performances — including Patrick Coniway’s “Mad World” and a joint song by Adrienne Lotto and Bridget McCoy ­— the villain turned out to be the students’ vocal coach and the pianist of the night, Roseanna Irwin. This revelation brightened the afternoon: It was heartwarming to see a teacher singing with her fellow students.

Though it included a lot of classic oldies, the show was overall very up to date. It vibrantly and humorously examined today’s culture through its portrayal of different racial and gender stereotypes. Carnegie Mellon’s sophomore vocal performance class is filled with not just musical and acting talent, but also a lot of originality.

If all this is not reaped from hard work, I’m not sure what is. Whoever believes the program’s claim that “all voice majors do is complain but never do anything” must somehow be delirious.