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Toons and company croon to Madonna, Scooby Doo

By Teresa Huang
Staff Reporter

On Saturday, the MIT/Wellesley Toons gave MIT yet another evening of capella packed with humor, energy, and good music. Both of the Toons' guest groups, the Brown Jabberwocks and the Smith College Smithereens, were excellent in their own ways and added to the spirit of the evening.

First to take the capella floor were the Brown Jabberwocks, Brown University's oldest all-male capella group. Their long history showed in their mastery of their repertoire. They sang a great set of songs from artists like David Bowie, Prince, and Crowded House. From their first song, "I Want You Back" (originally by the Jackson 5), their immediate energy and motion showed that the evening was going to be entertaining. Probably the highlight of their set was a fantastic Scooby Doo skit, in which Scooby and the gang solved the mystery of the giant tarantula. The Jabberwocks gave a terrific imitation of a complete episode, from Wilma losing her glasses right down to the reference to Scooby snacks. Their set was completed by a choreographed rendition of Madonna's "Vogue," which was filled with steps almost identical to the video, made even more humorous by the fact that it was a bunch of guys in suits singing Madonna.

Next to take the floor were the Smith College Smithereens, an all-female group who began their set with "As I Lay Me Down" by Sophie B. Hawkins. Though as a whole they were slightly less energetic than the Jabberwocks, their musicality and enthusiasm were still evident. Their Madonna contribution to the evening was a sufficiently haunting rendition of "Secret." The Smithereens also sang the Indigo Girls' "Ghost," which seems to be popular among area capella groups lately. When they began singing "When Doves Cry" by Prince, I noticed that though the Smithereens were excellent, they received considerably less audience response. It seemed that for some reason, the audience was more uncomfortable by the all-female group singing a song by a male artist than they were when the Jabberwocks, an all-male group, sang "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, a song not only by a female artist, but known as a somewhat feminist song. The Smithereens ended their set with a lively rendition of "Let Love Rule" by Lenny Kravitz, sung by soloist Ingrid A. Howard. Despite the slight gender-swapping in repertoire, both guest groups were excellently sung and energetic.

At last, it was time for the Toons to take the floor. They began their set with a fantastically animated "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants, sung by Jon Santos '97. The subtle choreography was extremely effective in conveying their energy and in setting the mood for the rest of their set, which was filled with great soloists, energetic back up singers, and yet another song by Madonna. Among the best soloists of the night were Margaret W. Ansbacher '97 on Mary-Chapin Carpenter's "I Feel Lucky," which showed the ease with which the Toons handled a different genre of music, and Eric Lindauer '98 on Boyz II Men's "Water Runs Dry," whose voice was so incredibly refined and romantic, he clearly retained the heart-melting quality of the original recording. By far the true highlight of the evening was the Toons rendition of 80s classic "We Got the Beat," originally sung by the Go-Go's. With the female members of the group all in high ponytails doing the famous go-go girl head shake, the group's energy was at its height, led by soloist Juli Schmidt W '98. The Toons ended their set with the third Madonna song of the evening, "Express Yourself," a song which has been sung by the Toons many times before, but which seems to gain something each time. For their encore, the Toons performed "Always Something There to Remind Me" by Naked Eyes, another reliable oldie that just gets better every time, as it was sung with great dynamics and sensitivity by soloist Rick Villanueva G.

The entire evening was impressive and the audience clearly couldn't help but take in some of the energy all of the groups exuded in their songs and movements. Perhaps the only thing I didn't like about this concert was the low attendance. There is no reason any of the fantastic capella groups on campus shouldn't be able to fill at least Room 6-120. Come on, there are other capella groups besides the Chorallaries that have great concerts, so check the bulletin boards around campus for upcoming concerts and don't miss another great capella concert again.