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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Rather Be Giraffes hosts yet another successful semester show

Published: December 5, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

Can you picture a night where singing, some Shakespearean comedy, and giraffes were all present? It sounds like it would be interesting, to say the least—and it actually transpired on Friday, Nov. 21, when one of Brandeis’ a cappella groups, Rather Be Giraffes, had its fall semester show. With songs ranging from Kimbra’s “Settle Down” and Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die,” the soloists’ performances incorporated quite the range of musical sounds that spiced up the show—in the same way that, around this time of year, many college students use pumpkin spice to make their generic latte a little more exciting.

“Romeo and Giraffiette” began when three figures walked onto the stage, wearing a combination of witch hats and black robes. The witches, played by Radhika Jangi ’18, Kristin Diamantides ’18 and Alex Ellison ’16, announced the commencement of the performance with clever rhymes, all in a poetic and Shakespearean tone. Although a strange sight at first, the witches were there to serve a larger purpose.

Unlike any of the other a cappella groups’ performances, the Rather Be Giraffes show worked with a theme to transition to each of the various songs. Though only loosely related to Shakespeare’s works, with references to “Romeo and Juliet,” “Macbeth” and even “Hamlet,” the brief skits in between each of the performances made for mild entertainment that connected the show in a seamless way. Each of the skits ended with a line that was a direct reference to the title of the next song of the fall show, thereby connecting the diverse and somewhat unrelated songs.

Though the performance took place in the small and enclosed Bethlehem Chapel, the location’s disadvantages could also be seen as advantages. For one, the small, cramped space enabled a lot of movement of sound. The enclosed nature of the chapel allowed the audience to hear the vocals with complete clarity, and even enabled the singers to hear each other better. Every sound, breath and utterance was heard by the audience.

The last song of the first act, “I Will Never Let You Down” originally recorded by Rita Ora and performed by Nicole Wittels ’15, is an example of what pop music, if it were any good, should sound like. The original song was undeniably catchy and perfect for the Rather Be Giraffes’ purposes. The background vocalists rise and fall in volume, coupled with Wittels’ sweet and charming voice, proved to create a musical piece that was the epitome of pop—if pop were inventive, exciting and invigorating.

The final song, “Better Dig Two,” by The Band Perry, sung by Deanna Heller ’15, had a lot of heart and soul. Heller channeled the strength afforded to her by her diaphragm and let out strong and powerful vocals that soothed and empowered. The piece, arranged by Ryan Mulvihill-Pretak ’16, was put together so as to spotlight Heller’s angelic voice, while blending earthy, cooing sounds in the background. The interlocking voices merged to generate a tune more pleasing to listen to than The Band Perry’s original recording.

Rather Be Giraffes’ “Romeo and Giraffiette” fall performance was a fun show to watch and showcased, yet again, some of Brandeis’ ever-present talent. The cheerful demeanor with which the vocalists sang and performed together and the excitement riddled on each and every members’ face was a sight to see, experience, and enjoy. Some of the Rather Be Giraffes members, however, will be graduating in 2015, and said their farewells when the fall show came to a close, some with tears in their eyes. Allen Ganjei, Deanna Heller, Jenny Scontras, and Nicole Wittels will all be graduating, and in some ways seem unhappy about that fact. Rather Be Giraffes will surely miss these seniors, but they will undoubtedly go on to do great things and take their musical ambitions with them.