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CONCERT REVIEW

Can Homer Simpson Sing?

Toons Fall Concert is Fun and Funny

By Allison Lewis
ASSOCIATE ARTS EDITOR

MIT/ Wellesley Toons, with the BU Treblemakers and the Brandeis Starving Artists

54-100

Dec. 7, 9 p.m.

The Toons certainly knew how to energize the Green Building Saturday night. Performing with humor, fun, and drama, they were downright entertaining.

Opening for the Toons were the Boston University Treblemakers and the Brandeis University Starving Artists. In the Treblemakers’ performance of “Criminal,” the lead singer’s voice was an exact replica of Fiona Apple’s. The Starving Artists sang a soulful version of Alicia Key’s “A Woman’s Worth.”

Then the Toons took the stage, and -- because all black is such a cliche -- each guy wore a different colored coat, and each girl wore a different colored scarf in a different way. And like the colored scarves and coats, each Toon brought his or her own unique character to the stage, coloring the song with unique voice and personality. Each member had an individual part to sing. Last night, these parts really fit together into one cohesive singing unit. Their voices were like instruments -- winds and a rhythm section. Of course, there was always an amazing soloist in the forefront.

It’s a shame, though, that the Toons aren’t all the same size; then they wouldn’t have had to keep moving the two stubborn microphones up and down. At one point, tall guy Charles R. Floyd ’03 pulled the mic up so high, he jerked it right out of its stand. After that, the group improvised with one and a half microphones, and, even then, were awesome.

Both in front of one microphone, Floyd and Cecilia Lam, a Wellesley senior, stood close and sang the Mariah Carey version of “I’ll Be There.” I’m more impressed with Lam than Mariah Carey. Lam’s stunning soprano voice worked in and out of the notes, giving this worn out song lots of lift and vitality. Floyd’s expressive voice fit beautifully next to hers.

But not all voices are created equal. In the skit, “The 8 Mile Fellowship” -- you guessed it: hobbit turned rapper -- Floyd and Gautam K. Jayaraman G battled it out, taking turns to rap the other down. Floyd’s rap was smooth and convincing, but Jayaraman, who read his rap from a slip of paper (and sometimes fell off the beat) “won” the contest. How unfair, I thought. Floyd may have been the so-called “bad guy” but he was still, by far, the better rapper.

Even though he’s not a great a rapper (actually, he wasn’t that bad), Jayaraman does have one sexy tenor voice. He wooed the audience with Tonic’s “If You Could Only See.” He sang this already amazing song with a strong, and, yes, beautiful voice. (Why oh why aren’t there more men like Jayaraman?)

Jingle (that means she’s a new member) Ji Hyun Lim, a Wellesley freshman, sang a shining version of “My Favorite Mistake.” Her deep and jazzy alto voice is very unlike that of Sheryl Crow, who wrote and first performed the song. Lim’s voice brings out a beauty and emotion in this song that Crow’s voice doesn’t even come near to. Though just a young ’un, Lim is a wonderful new Toon.

After all, the more Toons there are, the more amazing voices you have: Heather MacDonald, a Wellesley junior, sang with a crystal voice like Sarah McLachlan; Nikhila Deo ’04 had a stage presence, dark alto voice and sexy shirt meant to melt the audience members; Zachary D. Perez ’05 had a smooth, controlled, well-executed tenor voice; and Michael L. Stevens G was a one-man drum machine -- I have no idea how he makes those noises.

Each singer, like a cartoon character, had his or her own style and facial expressions, and yet they came together and sang as one, and danced as one. The Toons concert Saturday night wasn’t just a vocal performance. It was a well-rehearsed show, complete with plenty of dancing and great skits. It may not have been as choreographed as a Britney Spears concert, but the show was just as much fun to watch (and laugh at). Things may not have always been as smooth as planned (the faltered rap lines, the broken microphone), but this only added to the night, with humor and friendly flair. Saturday night, the Toons were fun and funny, and there was some good singing, too.