Suffolk University Fall Fest 2016
Fall Fest is, as Performing Arts Office Director Kristin Baker puts it, “Suffolk’s oldest arts tradition” and is a way “to celebrate the Suffolk community and its many, varied and occasionally surprising talent.” Musical variety shows are hard to come by nowadays, being a seemingly dated form of entertainment, which is why I was surprised to learn that Suffolk does one every year. Styles of music were represented from classic show tunes, to top 40 hits, to some old Elvis song your grandparents probably listened to. Throw in a little Disney and a little rapping, and you’ve got yourself this year’s set list. I just wish I had known about this sooner so I could have been involved.
The show begins. Lights up on the band and our company, dapperly dressed and singing “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” from Dreamgirls. Despite a few misplaced vocals, the show was off to a fun start. The ladies from the company got together to perform other fiery classics “Too Darn Hot” and “Cell Block Tango”. At the end of the performance, the entire company returned to sing “Anything Goes”, a strong closing number filled with costumes that brought modern life to an old beloved song.
The group numbers set the tone of the show, but it was our emcees DJ Fabrizio and Kemal Beyaztas who walked onto the stage and engaged the audience. Fabrizio and Beyaztas introduced themselves with your typical emcee shtick: Beyaztas makes corny jokes that invoked mixes of groans and laughter and Fabrizio hits him and tells him to stick to the script, which results in even more laughter. Having emcees to move the show along was a nice and entertaining touch.
The highlights of the night were performed by Fall Fest’s independent acts, students ranging from all years of education. Even faculty member Adrienne Frame joined the action with a crowd-pleasing rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, which was made complete by her costume. The acts were filled with variety. Melissa Smith performed a mesmerizing flag-spinning routine to honor her experience in Color Guard. Eleanor Mouzafarov, wielding her guitar, impressively performed “Videli Noch” in her native Russian tongue. Ben Pompilus, otherwise known as “Ben P” on SoundCloud, performed his original rap, “No Other Way”, showing off a talent that is surprising for a student double majoring in business and entrepreneurship. Elizabeth Hadley then graced the stage with a refreshingly different act: a tap dance to “Everybody Talks”. Her smile was infectious and made me want to make an origami rose out of my notepad so I could throw it to her. The new Suffolk music group, Soulfully Versed, also made an appearance at the beginning of Act II and sang a passionate a capella arrangement of “Tonight”, topped with strong soloists and crisp harmonies.
The other two solo acts were powerful vocal performances by Rebecca Twomey and Jacob Tobey. Twomey took Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” and made it her own with plenty of stylish vocal runs. Tobey also brought his guitar and sang Justin Bieber’s “Cold Water”. Every note was so perfectly placed it almost sounded autotuned.
What also surprised me was the amount of freshmen involved. For a large amount of the performers, Fall Fest was their first performance opportunity at Suffolk. Caitlin Sampson gave a goosebump-inducing performance with her cover of Blink-182’s “Bored to Death”, while Ruth Christmas belted her emotionally charged take on Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette” later in the evening. Peter Teutsch’s crooning voice led the company’s fun, theatrical performance of “Devil in Disguise” and Alex Molle was the focus in a nostalgic return to Cee Lo’s “Forget You”, along with junior Kevin Landers. Numerous freshmen were also found dancing in the company and running backstage as a part of the production team.
Despite not having attended any of Suffolk’s previous Fall Fest performances, I am sure this one must have lived up to the examples set by those in years prior. Despite a few vocal hitches with the company, I was thoroughly entertained and dumbfounded by the talent in this school. It was interesting being able to see a more musical performance at Suffolk after the Fall Showcase, which was all drama. Fall Fest 2016 helped prove the incredible versatility of the students’ performing abilities. I cannot wait to see what else the Performing Arts Office has in store for the rest of the year.