UC Irvine’s Songfest 2008 kicked off its 30th anniversary last Thursday night with a dazzling showcase of Irvine Greeks on Broadway. On May 22, the Bren Events Center transformed into the Tony awards as each fraternity and sorority on campus performed individual renditions of hit musical shows such as “Wicked” or “Damn Yankees.” Parents, students and alumni gathered together for a three-hour non-stop sequence of song and dance.
All sales traditionally go to a philanthropic cause, and this year’s proceeds raised awareness and support for children suffering from AIDS in Africa. Not only was this project solely UCI-based, but sponsors from outside the community contributed to hitting the goal of raising $30,000 this year. Chiptole, Jamba Juice, Rockstar and many others distributed free smoothies and prizes at the door, while Contiki Holidays raffled a two-week trip to Europe for one lucky winner.
The show itself went beyond expectations. Every performance showcased some real theater talent, and all of this year’s hard work was definitely obvious. From set design to solos to choreography, each chapter brought a little bit of all that jazz onto stage. The program paired one fraternity with one sorority in a line-up of 30-minute shows.
Gamma Phi Beta and Pi Kappa Alpha opened with “Spamalot” that had audiences roaring with cheer and laughter for swooning knights and heroic leading ladies. “Wicked” was purely wicked as the actors of Alpha Phi and Phi Gamma Delta successfully reflected the main characters Galinda and Elphaba. The highlight of that sequence came at the end where Elphaba was hoisted to the top of the stage at the peak of her solo. “Seussical,” performed by Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Sigma was witty and adorable as was “Damn Yankees” from Epsilon Phi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. “Reefer Madness” catered better to the college audience since the theme of that show was about smoking weed. Though Pi Beta Phi and Sigma Chi’s “The Producers” ended the night with a Broadway smash about a Broadway flop, it was Kappa Alpha Theta and Sigma Phi Epsilon’s “Spring Awakening” that won for the best overall performance.
Judging for the best of the best was tough as a panel of UCI and non-UCI representatives sat near the back of the pit and scored each set based on set design, composition, choreography and more. “Spring Awakening” was the winner, but each performance had moments that were unique to its purpose and really brought out the fun in theater to audiences of all ages.
However, winning wasn’t as important as the fact that this year’s long collaboration of effort and hard work were towards a noble cause. The Africa Project focuses on the effects of AIDS for orphaned or low-income children of Africa to create a sufficient environment to meet their basic needs. Even though stereotypes surrounding Greek life often portray them as vicarious to global issues, programs such as Songfest prove differently and demonstrates that even the Greeks have their moral side intact.