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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Proscenium brings theatrical flair to a cappella

Published: January 30, 2009
Section: Arts, Etc.

<i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

In technical terms, the proscenium is the part of a theater stage that is in front of a curtain. But in Brandeis terms, Proscenium is the name of one of its most prominent, respected, and entertaining a cappella singing groups. Their semester show – aptly named “The History of Musical Theater” – took place this past Sunday, January 25, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm at Slosberg Recital Hall.

The coed group – comprised of Amy Klesert, Anthony Medeiros, Arielle Kaplan, David Baumgold, Jonathan Muchin, Lizzie Abbate, Megan McGrath, Robert Orzalli, Sierra Kagen and Xan Weinstein – recently added two new members – Sam Gagne and Johanna Wickemeyer – rounding out the ensemble at twelve students. True to their name, Proscenium’s show was filled with much more than just singing. They appropriately incorporated theatrical elements into their hour long show Sunday evening by introducing an actual actor, Sam Zelitch. Zelitch, who creatively employed his comedy skills, modeled his outrageous performance after a rather zany theater professor. He interacted with the crowd between songs and controlled a power point presentation that displayed pictures from the respective shows that the songs came from.

“I was really impressed with the job that Sam Zelitch did, especially because he improvised a lot of the character. His presence made our show cohesive because there was a story. He was the glue that held the songs together,” said Megan McGrath, a freshman member of the a cappella group.

The song list for the evening included all of Proscenium’s greatest hits, including the fun “Nicest Kids In Town” from Hairspray, “I Wish I Could Go Back to College” from Avenue Q, “That’s How You Know” from the film Enchanted, and, my personal favorite, “Being Alive” from Company. Every song by Proscenium became a performance – punctuated by some costume changes, dance moves, acting, and other theatrical features.

In the middle of the show, Sax Appeal took the stage and did a wonderful, albeit short, set. The saxophone quartet performed an impressive set of songs that was the perfect special appearance – their music was different enough from Proscenium’s to make their appearance interesting, but not so different that they seemed out of place. The four boys in cleverly named Sax Appeal demonstrated extreme virtuosity in their musical ability – especially when they improvised their melodies.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Proscenium, which was readily apparent to any of the numerous people who occupied the auditorium that evening, was the group’s complete harmony (no pun intended). Each of the members represented a necessary component to the success of the a cappella group, and each offered a different style or attitude, which culminated in one unified, exciting and talented ensemble of hardworking singers.

Xan Weinstein, a freshman member, shared this sentiment. “I love performing in Proscenium – whether it be at Chum’s or in a formal show like tonight. But one of the best parts about being in this group is just working with such different but incredibly artistic people who share my love for musical theater.”

For more information on Proscenium, including future performances and pictures, check out their website at or just go to Google and search “Brandeis Proscenium.”