Friday, April 18, 2014

Cincy Sings (Yeah, She Does) -- DREW

By Leah Zipperstein

Wow. That's where we must begun when delving into last night's Cincy Sings competition at the Aronoff Center. I could have sworn the friendly sing off would have been held in the smaller Jarson-Kaplan Theater. But no.
With 1,500 folks in attendance, we filled (well, almost filled) the big house. While there have been a few internal sing offs at some of Cincinnati's major companies, there has yet to be a city-wide competition pitting the engineers against the grocers and the bankers against the card sharks. Last night changed that.
Presented by ArtsWave and hosted by Drew Lachey, 10 teams battled it out. The judges were Bob Herzog (Local 12 morning anchor and traffic reporter), Pamela Myers (Tony nominated actress), Dr. Casey J. Hayes (Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Men's Chorus), and Kathy Wade (International award winning jazz vocalist). 
The grading criteria: 
  1. Song selection
  2. Stage presence
  3. Vocal quality
Some of us have hidden talents. Sure. But who knew there were so many talented peeps hiding among Cincinnati's corporate elite. For example American Modern's Vocal Intensity forced us to drop our jaws and Kathy Wade to flail her arms in amazement when one of their singers broke into a solo jazz be-dee-bop-a-dee-bop of perfection. Still. Blown. Away. 
Then there was Any Direction, a GE boy band giving Avicii's "Wake Me Up" some serious justice. I have my doubts if Sheldon (from The Big Bang Theory) could have been that sly. Or how about the Curious Fifth Third Bankers singing "Tornado" by Little Big Town? The three vocalists on stage, one of whom strummed the guitar, felt like they were playing the Grand Ole OpryWatch out, Rayna James.
The winning team, by a single split hair, went to P&G's Legal Notes for their rendition of a Beatles tune. Dave Mattheis, current senior legal counsel at P&G, walked out on the stage with a briefcase, looking ready to depose Drew Lachey. When Drew informed to calm down because it's only a friendly singing competition, Mattheis brought in a little help from his friends that was straight acapella goodness. The harmony, finger snapping, and overall charm was too much for the judges to ignore. That, and the threat of a lawsuit.
In between the first half of songs and before the judges final deliberation, we also enjoyed short performances by other local arts groups — MamLuft & Co. Dance along with Exhale Dance Tribe. I have to give a special shout out to the male dancer from Exhale who opened their performance with a slick and fluid contemporary number that I'd like to put on repeat. 
Other highlights from the night include
  • Bob Herzog saving someone's life with a sweet mic catch after a member of Any Direction accidentally knocked it over
  • Hearing the Just Roll With It Cincinnati Children's wild card team close the night with Pharrell's "Happy." That song has yet to get old. Really, it just keeps getting better.
  • Drew Lachey. If you want a hostest with the mostest, he is your guy. He kept the performances moving straight along. He had the right amount of witty banter with the judges and the audience, and he's an amazing ambassador for the city. Companies should hire him to emcee a day at work. There'd be no more reports of cube monkey-itis. I'm sure of it.