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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Brandeis Cares’ raises HIV/AIDS awareness through variety show

Published: March 16, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc., Top Stories

“Brandeis Cares” was put on last night in the Sherman Function Hall to raise money for Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS, one of the nation’s leading industry-based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. The show was put on as a series of performances of popular Broadway songs, featuring many of the students involved in the Brandeis theater community. Overall, it was enjoyable, though it sometimes felt like a fifth-grader’s talent show.
The show began with a performance of “Time Warp” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which was a rocky start to the night. Although there was a high level of energy involved, there was a bit of an uncomfortable feeling to the show. Because many of these performers are in other theater groups, standards had to be slightly dropped because this was a side project for most of them. On the other hand, this one piece seemed to lack the spark and dedication necessary to pull off any performance with good effect. To add to this, Sophomore Jason Dick’s microphone was not working for the duration of the song, and his absence was sorely obvious. Jackie Theoharis ’13, however, really shone in a tap solo, pulling the song together.
“What Is This Feeling?” from “Wicked” pitted two a cappella groups, “Rather Be Giraffes” and “Company B,” against each other This idea was good in theory but was executed poorly. Firstly, both a cappella groups had their lyrics obviously in front of them. In addition, although it was supposed to be a “battle,” it was apparent that Company B had rehearsed more. Overall, the performance was OK and seemed to be the average performance for the night.
What really brought up the average was the “In The Heights” medley. The routine promised to be exciting, with more than 20 people involved, and it definitely provided. Usman Hameedi ’12 started it right with the opening lines of “In The Heights,” delivering the lines with the same amount of soul and power that he has whenever he slams. This amount of energy and sway over the audience continued as the cast danced to and sang three other songs from the show. One of the reasons that this medley was so strong was the fact that none of them, save Aiden Horowitz, was actually all that involved in Brandeis theater. Additionally, the entire ensemble was dancing and a majority of them were singing, which kept the energy high. The other reason they were successful was that most of them were actually minorities. Brandeis isn’t that great at portraying the minorities in shows accurately but “In The Heights” did a good job. Excellent performances combined with spectacular lighting made this piece the stand-out of the night.
One of the morals of the night was that there are many excellent performers who are not involved in Brandeis theater at all. In addition to “In The Heights,” excellent performers were also seen in the performances of “Good Morning, Baltimore” from Hairspray by Alison Uliss ’12 and “The Internet Is For Porn” from “Avenue Q” featuring Ben Gold ’12 and Abby Armstrong ’13. From these performances, it seems that if one of the numerous theater groups on campus were to put on one of these shows that it would be wildly successful.
One of the last performances of the night was an improv musical that contrasted the rest of the night to good effect. Zane Relethford ’13 led the group strongly by choosing “platter” as the topic of the musical and by playing a man who was born and raised in a cave and who only recently joined civilization. Elly Kalfus ’13 and Caroline Grassi ’12 continued the situation very well, with Kalfus attempting to teach Relethford the ways of the modern day. Grassi was also helping out, depicting herself as Merriam-Webster, author of the dictionary.
It was inspiring to see the Brandeis performers come together, whether or not they were directly involved in theater, for the common cause of raising HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention as well as showing off their talent.