Thursday, May 14, 2009

Looking Back on May 12th Chaper Meeting

Looking Back on May 12th Chapter Meeting

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week at an Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter meeting. —Ye Ed.)

It was another big Harmonizer guest nite success!!!

Set up crew had the place rollin early with the risers backed up to the stage and a nice gallery of seats for fans. The admin things continued like raffle and script sales. Refreshments set up and ready for the assembled crowd. Usual refresher course for stage presence at 6 pm by McKeever.

At 7 pm, the many guests joined the many guys present (in a nice array of Harmo shirts) for warm ups. Will Cox did a solid musical one. Gary Plaag did one to get people moving with a swing tune Scott K played on the sound system. Tony Colosimo did another musical exercise and got the men ready to sing with breath support and in key!

In the midst of the warm ups, President Brad and Director Joe and Membership guy Dan O invited all student guests to meet with them about specifics re youth membership. (It was neat that three parents were on hand for the evening, having provided transportation for theirs sons – some who had been to our Youth Harmony Festival.)

This is a good point in my story to go into the details about the guest nite. Dan O announced there were 28 guests in all. A handful of fellas were with us from the Frederick, MD, Chapter. They are visiting other chapters around the Society to get ideas on “how things are done” in other chapters. Glad we could help.

There were many first time guests with us last nite. But some repeats from previous guest nites. There were some guys from other chapters around the Society too. And some former members – Biff and Hal Gaut and Phil Ashford. Current member Mike Geipel came up from Richmond since his chorus was not meeting this Tuesday. Good to see them all.

Lots of guys were greeting and meeting the guests and helping them enjoy their visit. Tom Hutton and Brian Ammerman were working the reg counter with Dan, cause he was mighty busy. They had plenty of guest books and the new brochure to give out. (Ye Ed also got a glance at the handy and easy to use and read sign-in form Dan or someone has created for guests. Kuddos.)

Back to the evening’s music: Director Joe welcomed all guests and thanked the troops for their busy show weekend. Then he launched a work session on music for the upcoming show for the Supreme Court Historical Society at the Supreme Court building. He spent a solid block of time on the “Armed Forces Medley.” That was a good one for guests, as most singers have heard the melody of most of those songs.

The break was busy – it takes a while for 100 guys to get a coffee, a goodie or three and say hi to a couple guys. But there was plenty to share – thanks again to the Nelsons and the Jordans for their contributions. And actually for some guys who had brought things for the Youth Festival which we saved!

After break, quartet promotion guy, Ken White continued the salutes to quartet men who are competing in the four division contests (Last week Ye Ed wrote that there were 5 divisions, but now a days there are only 4. Used to be 5!) Ken, with help from Chapter Treasurer Howard Nestlerode, presented checks to cover the registration fee for any Harmonizer in a division contest quartet contest. (Bold face type indicates our members.)

WHO IS THAT OLD GUY sang in the Northern Division – Scott Kahler (on tenor), Joe Cerutti Sr. and Joe Jr., Eric Wallen.

CLASSIC CONNECTION will sing at Western Division – Dan Smoot-Wood, Ed Shaw, Bob Mattes, Sam McFarland. EAST COAST SWING will also compete there – Ryan Griffith, Tony Colosimo, Joe Cerutti, Kirk Young.

ECHO CHAMBER will sing at the Atlantic Division – Chris Granger, Noah Van Gilder, Lex Lorimer, Aaron Greller.

The following guys then are singing at Southern Division out in Reston on May 22 and 23. FRiDAYS! – Steve Spriggs, Bob Caldwell, Ken Ives, Steve Murane; DOWN A FOURTH – Joe Sawyer, Joe Cerutti, Wayne Adams, Mike Kelly; SURPRISE! – JC O’Donovan, John Grant, Bob Hirsh, Bruce Minnick; DOWNTOWN – Drew Fuller, Frank Fedarko, Mike Stoll, Kevin Flynn; SHADES OF HARMONY – Ron Furrow, Sam McFarland, Bob Fogle, Bob Fogle, Jr.; CAPITAL A CAPPELLA – Steve Spriggs, Allen Snyder, Joe Grimme, Kevin Flynn; FOUR IN THE MORNING – Mike Geipel, Ron Nichols, Gene Thompson, Emmitt Totty; and FOUR GOOD MEASURE – Dave Geisinger, Reggie Reynolds, Jere Richardson, Austin Cotton.

Two of our chapter groups are singing as mic testers for quartet contests this season: FULL TILT at Southern – Eddie Cazenas, Nick Aiuto, Pete Frank, Steve White; and CRUNCH TIME at Western – Brett Thomas, Shawn Thomas, Matt Fellows, Eric Wallen.

Another announcement after the break included a push for folks to visit the sign up table and especially to check into helping the Harmonizer team that is running the Southern Division contest. A lot of us need to give a little time to make this go well. And the chapter makes a decent fee for its work. Jobs are like marking seats, putting up risers and stage stuff, escorting quartets and choruses. Carl Kauffmann is the guy to call if you can help; tho he has a crew of team leaders he’ll send you to. This is also a good way for members who don’t or can’t sing these days, to do something with the other guys in the chapter.

The Harmonizers will also sing at the end of the chorus contest on Saturday morning. All should plan to attend. The music team is expecting judges will offer suggestions for improving the contest package for this summer.

President Brad presented You Make a Difference stars to Ken Fess and Mick Stamps for their months of hard work and dedication to details in producing the successful Spring Tonic this past weekend.

After the meeting period, some of the assistant directors took the guests into another room to teach them a tag and chat a bit about the chapter. Mean while, the chorus worked on some songs.

When guests returned to the main hall in Durant, the chorus welcomed them with cheers and applause. The guests sang a couple tags, and then took seats to enjoy the chorus performance. CAMERON STATION sang one of their great numbers too.

After that, Joe had the whole crew singing on the risers. He and the team taught the guests moves for “Clap Your Hand.” He helped the guys all get into the new ballad – so we can sing it well for division and for our upcoming overnite retreat (June 6-7 at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD). And before the nite was out, the guests were taught the tag and moves for “Great Day” so they could sing with the chorus.

We ended the nite at 10 pm after a Moment In Harmonizer History and a quick calendar review. We then had time to put stuff away; some guys sang some tags and helped guests with music turn in and preparations to come again. Some guests helped with risers, which was a good start! And some even came over to the afterglow.

Until next time – editorjack!

Lookinb Back on the Spring Tonic May 8-9 2009

Looking Back on the Spring Tonic May 8-9, 2009

(This message is prepared for your review if you were there, for your information if you had to miss, and as a historical record of the great things going on each week with Alexandria Harmonizer Chapter members. —Ye Ed.)

The Tonic was Friday May 8th at 8 pm and Saturday May 9th at 2 and 8 pm in the Annandale High School Auditorium. This was a new venue for the show. Stage was a little small and the big chorus and great set “filled” it. The guys report it was a “live” stage tho for singing.

“A Harmonizer on Broadway” was sort of a take off on many musicals from the theater world – a novice arrives in NYC and is lost and gawking at the tall buildings and is shocked by the unusual people, but is befriended by a nice cab driver and even the Mob guys make him a success.

Ken White was the “star” and sang and danced his way into the hearts of the audiences at all three shows. The Indian taxi driver was Troy Hillier, recast from earlier Tonics with his accent and humor. The mob “Don” was played by Gary Mankin who did a great job. He was always accompanied by his body guards Scipio Garling and Rick Wagner – and was always announced on the stage by soft violin music. It was a good gag that got laughs all weekend. Chris Huber was “singing Vinny, the Producer” who took orders from the Don. Ben Nelson made his theatrical debut with this show as the Young Tough Guy both in the opening scene and later with dialogue in the second scene.

Background things like the violin music and the intro to two or three numbers were a great addition. One song, prerecorded by the chorus was a reprise of “One” from “Chorus Line” as done by the great Harmonizer front row with top hats and all the foot work. And the prerecorded intro set up for “Music of the Night” was one we have used a lot over the years.

The show stopper might have been the return of “New York, New York” with the front row chorus line routine. It got a standing ovation each nite – even Friday nite’s audience was yelling and cheering all evening long. And you gotta mention the great performance of “Summertime” on the Saturday nite show!

Ken Fess and Mick Stamps worked hard as co-producers for this one. And they have been at it for months. They also were stage managers and had as stagehands the help of Joe Cerutti Sr. and a group of guys from the Manhattan Chapter, who came down for the weekend to support us. Cool.

The script was from Scipio Garling and Noah Van Gilder. The show program too. It was designed as a folded subway brochure. No ad sales. Lots of color.

There was a lot of quartet singing on this show. It was the swan song for BACHELOR PARTY – Fasano, G. Tepe, Rub, Reynolds. The chapter gave them a rousing Standing O at the afterglow after they sang a Cole Porter medley (arranged by John Hohl) they had learned.

CRUNCH TIME, with our Eric Wallen on bass, was hot and sounded like they are working for their run at the International contest this summer. Both FRiDAYS! (Spriggs, Caldwell, Ives, S. Murane) and DOWNTOWN (Fuller, Fedarko, Stoll, Flynn) have Harmonizers in the quartet and sang on the show as did FOUR MAN VOCAL BAND, an all Harmo quartet that has been around for years (tho we don’t get to hear Lazear, Bates, Walker, Cureton very often). They did the Victor Borge “phonetic punctuation” bit and got a bunch of laughs on the show.

Our guest quartet was BIGTIME! from the Big Apple Chorus. They are noted for their “mob or gang” routines – and so they fit right into this year’s Tonic script. CAMERON STATION sang in the show to help tell the story and won the audience each time.

The set was pretty neat this year – some fun street scene additions like the newspaper stand, the manhole construction fence, the entry on each side of the stage to parts of the NY Subway, a rolling hot dog stand, a taxi stand, and even a taxi to drive around stage. The taxi was huge on the little stage and got some laughs as it was moved around. The set for songs from “Music Man” was neat too and featured both BACHELOR PARTY (who did some of the songs they had done recently in their appearances in DC) and the librarian, played by Gayle Connelly. Dennis Ritchey did a majority of the set construction. Bill Stewart did the news stand and helped a lot with props. Producer Fess himself built several items including the porch for the librarian’s solo.

The audience side of the show had some new wrinkles too – guys from Big Apple were dressed in their chorus uniforms and were at the front door welcoming everyone. I saw several signs around town posted by the chapter team. The FRIENDS of HARMONY raffled a quilt made by Kim Fess and several cookie arrangements made by Tom Hutton’s sister. President Sandy Stamps and her helpers awarded the prizes at intermission from the stage. The FRIENDS were also the ushers for this new auditorium.

Back stage there were dressing rooms for the show principals and each quartet got a room. Pretty classy! No snacks this year – just water – because of school rules. That is why FRIENDS group could not sell refreshments at intermission. (Ye Ed hears that there were a lot of guys following CAPS games when they were not on stage.) Chorus manager Klostermeyer kept all in line.

As usual, there were old friends in the audience that we don’t see often like Connie Sanders and Bill Heyer. Ben Horen came to cheer for his tap dance student, Ken! Some former members popped up like John Stauffer with his family, en route to TX for a new military assignment. And Warren Fieffer who lives in VA but a long way from Alexandria. Dick Weick was in the front row – good to see him out and about.

There was a traditional Afterglow on Saturday nite at a pizza buffet place on Rte. 236. Lots of food and a full house. By midnite, everyone had their food and drinks and were ready for the quartets to do a song or three. Sam McFarland was mc for this event. Mike Schwartz was organizer. It was one of the largest afterglows in years with close to 150 attending. (There was not the traditional cast gathering on Friday nite after that performance.)

Gotta give credit to the sales force and marketing guys for the show headed by Dean Rust as business manager and assisted by Scipio Garling and John Pence. The chapter used a lot of new things like Facebook and 4-color posters and postcards to promote. The crew worked hard at going to other chapters, other Alexandria musical groups and set up a sales table the at the recent barbershop prelims contest in Reston. Dean Rust put up the signs we saw all around town along the roads!

The center section was pretty much sold out for Friday and Saturday nites but there was room for more in the balcony and side seating areas. Steve Murane was ticket coordinator. Terry Jordan worked at the will call desk at all shows. And the Kauffmanns and Martin Banks helped staff the ticket table too. Bill DePuy was house manager. Joel Golden helped too.

As mentioned above the show had a lot technical details, so Scott Kahler and Dixie Kennett earned their pay for designing the sound and lighting. Ian Poulin helped Scott too and students from the school worked both lights and sound for our team.

Gotta mention some of the costumes guys found to use in the street scene – Kauffmann was the cop giving Ritchey, the bum, a jab with a nite stick to keep moving, Kelly on roller blades as he directed a song, Cameron selling Krispie Kremes, Schwartz playing a violin, some businessmen, some joggers, some construction workers, some military guys and a bunch of sports enthusiasts. There was no priest and no cowboy tho!

A highlight of the show had to be the great singing by the chorus with full stage presence routines on a lot of numbers. Chuck McKeever, Gary Plaag and Terry Reynolds were instrumental is getting the visual package done and rehearsed. The body thrusts in the tag of “Mr. Cellophane” were a hit. Each of the assistant directors had a song to do – Will Cox, Tony Colosimo, Chuck Hunter, Mike Kelly. Director Joe kept it all flowing and knew when to press for more during the weeks of rehearsal leading up to the show. The integration of the Ken White’s solos with the chorus singing was well done. And the interp and special inflections made the music clear and believable. (Neat that Ken’s parents came down for the Saturday nite show. His dad, Whitey, as they call him in his Pittsfield, MA, barbershop chapter, got Ken into barbershop as a kid.)

Until next time – editorjack!