Everything you never wanted to know about show choir.
By Melissa Presti (Book Publisher)
When Irving Berlin said "there's no business like show business" I think he was trying to make himself sound cool, as if show business is totally normal. And there is nothing normal about people who sing and dance around on a stage pretending to be other people. When I lived with an actor who would walk around practicing his accents and dialects, I was 30% sure he was decent at his craft and 70% sure he was schizophrenic. When I was on stage in a black glittery jumpsuit and combat boots stomping around to J-Lo's "Play" I was secretly wishing it was a sequined dress and I was belting out a ballad from Jekyll and Hyde. See? Not normal.
But a lot of this makes sense to some people, it's completely normal, and a new book is out today to tell you all about them:
Sweat, Tears, and Jazz Hands: The Official History of Show Choir from Vaudeville to Glee, published by Hal Leonard, takes an exciting look into the history of show business. Chronologically it traces an art form that has evolved from “edutainment” and P.T. Barnum to Irving and ragtime, to Fosse and vaudeville, to the family entertainment acts and variety TV shows of the 1950s, to the MTV generation to obviously, Glee.
What you’ll learn is that show choirs have been around forever, a kind of cultural zeitgeist across the Midwest that has been thriving and modernizing long before Ryan Murphy figured out how to use it to take over the world.
She says, "In short, a show choir is a mash-up between a standard choir, a dance team, and a drama club, which competes with similar groups throughout the country. And it's cool. I swear."
Together they've combined their knowledge and passion to provide an inside look at what it takes to create a competitive, award-winning show, and how it impacts the performers along the way.
Whatever your opinion about Glee may be, this international phenomenon has put the spotlight on show choirs, and it's inspiring to see how many people have admitted their participation or infatuation. You might be surprised to learn the influence pop culture and theater has made in structuring this once unknown community of singers and dancers, and how it has shaped the individuality of the performer.
"This story isn’t about who can sell the best moves or who can out-sing who. This story is about an ongoing group of people striving to do what they love and making the world a more interesting and livable place through music; more livable, if not for everyone else, at least for themselves.” - Mike Weaver
Whether that story is your past, present, or future, it feels normal to me.
Check out one of the highlighted choirs in the book, John Burroughs H.S. "Powerhouse" of Burbank, CA. I'm a fan of their song choice and pyrotechnics... let's not discuss the costumes.