Burroughs Pop Show 36 is at the Top of Its Game

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(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Lovin’ is really my Game” Pop Show 36 wowed packed Burroughs Auditorium audiences this past March weekend, belting out great tunes in full leonine roar and also creating moments of lamb-­‐y sweetness. John Burroughs High School Vocal Music Association (JBHS VMA) had all musical guns firing: Powerhouse, Sound Sensations, Sound Waves, Decibelles, Vocal Ensemble, Muses, Men@Work and Dance Ensemble.

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(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The solos and duets were without exception good enough to swivel a few chairs on The Voice, and many were good enough to stand comparison with the top 12 on American Idol. This includes the ‘mazin Robin Mazer, Nick Nikoian’s big league rendition of Feelin’ Good, and the blow-­‐you-­‐away powerful voices of Brighton Thomas and Cassidy MacNeill.

A stand out performance among the stand-­‐outs has to include the barbershop beauty About That Bass, with sonic stylings by Marvin Dela Cruz, Nick Nikoian, Jeremy Moran, Joshua Strobi and Jasiri Booker.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Throw in great choreography, superb dancing, back flips that don’t miss a beat, and attention to detail that even makes the segues entertaining.

And then there’s the Tech Crew doing professional-­‐level sound and lighting effects. Not even Glee had it this good. Forget the fast track. The crewmates (high school students, you have to keep reminding yourself) are on the bullet train to great tech careers in the industry.

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(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

First-­‐rate sound and lighting can cut both ways for performers. Mistakes will be amplified just as much as talent. But the cast more than lived up to the tech support. And as a bonus, those going on to a post-­‐high school career in live performance won’t be thrown by the big stage. They’ve already been there.

VMA Director Brendan Jennings is too modest to say that Burroughs is the top show choir in the country, since, like with college football, there’s no clear-­‐cut path to being recognized as the indisputable “number one.” But he readily agrees that Burroughs would be on anyone’s “top three list” of USA high school show choirs. Anyone seeing the forest of first place trophies Burroughs has garnered in various competitions might be forgiven for narrowing that list down to one high school.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

But the real point is not the ranking but the audience. People attend Pop Show 36 not just to dutifully cheer on a son or a granddaughter. They’re looking forward to a evening of great entertainment.

After the Saturday night performance, several dozen singers descended on the Coral Cafe with that electric, winner’s excitement that you normally see in high school only after winning the big game. And it seems that sustained practice is as important on the stage as on the field. One of the singers pointed out that Pop Show rehearsals start well before the holidays. The chorographers put their heads together for the large-­‐scale sets, but the soloists can pick their own songs. Then come the weeks of hard work and back-­‐and-­‐forth with the Tech Crew.

From time to time, educators have wondered at least once what it would be like if students were as dedicated to any subject-­‐-­‐take-­‐your-­‐pick-­‐-­‐as they are to sports. And what would it be like if their community were as supportive of the performing arts as, say, the typical Texas town is of its high school and junior high school football programs?

What would it be like? Pop Show 36 is what it would be like. Along with a yearbook-­‐quality program thick with individual and business contributors. That’s what it would be like.

And that’s because loving young adults into excellence is really, truly VMA’s game.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)
(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

 

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