Saturday evening, Union students exhibited everything from Disney to Iggy by bringing their most explosive dance moves and lip syncing skills to the stage with a $100 cash prize hanging in the balance.
Every year students meet in a colossal clash of raw talent as they battle over the lip sync prize. Saturday night amid a room full of flying streamers, glow sticks and the deafening cheers of adoring onlookers, 17 students performed their songs of choice. Acts were interspersed with hilarious commentary by hosts Elizabel Riggs and Garyn Mclntyre, and performances were evaluated by three guest judges including President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver.
“There were tears coming into this,” Riggs said. “And there will be money going out.”
Union’s Lip Sync Battle is hosted by the national theater honor society APO (Alpha Psi Omega), of which Bryanna England serves as current president.
“It’s been so rewarding to mobilize such a fantastic organization,” England said. “I’ve become the ‘theater mom’ and I am overjoyed to see everyone come together to truly form a family.”
Due to an unexpected performance last year, this year’s participants were required to undergo an extensive screening process and attend both a rehearsal and a dress rehearsal before bringing their pizzazz onstage. Battles from past years have featured everything from Oliver doing the “stanky leg,” to performances of Disney songs.
Perhaps the most memorable performance last year was an incendiary lip sync by senior philosophy major Jared Harrison of Cascada’s “Every Time We Touch” complete in leggings and high heels. Although England attributes this popular if somewhat raunchy performance to “a lack of screening” and acknowledges it as a “mistake” Harrison claims he was caught off guard by people’s negative responses.
“I didn’t want to be mediocre,” Harrison said. “Everybody was in an uproar [during the performance] and a bunch of people came up and praised it afterwards telling me ‘we need more of that.’”
Even without an athletic man prancing the stage in heels, Saturday’s performances demonstrated the diversity, creativity and incredible energy of the student population. From Broadway to Justin Bieber, there was not a song performed in which the audience did not actively participate by clapping, singing or dancing in their rows. “Keep the drama on the stage” is APO’s motto and England encourages everyone to take “an opportunity to enjoy the spotlight without the pressure of having to actually sing. It is just a fun time to host and be hospitable to anyone who chooses to cross the threshold into our theater.”
Matthew Wallace won third place with a spirited soprano from Broadway’s “The Little Mermaid,” Abby Duke and Jonathan Bowman won second with their hilariously awkward rendition of Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” in which they competed for space on their tiny flying rug and Chandler Clark went home with first place after performing “Sadie Hawkins Dance.” President Oliver’s enthusiastic presence in the theater was especially meaningful to the performers and, as the judges deliberated over the scores, he was heard to comment: “I only wish we had more prizes.”