Songfest — an annual festival put on by the UC Irvine Greeks that raises thousands of dollars every year for a charity of their choice, returned to the Bren Events Center on Friday, May 20. This year, that charity was the Orange County Habitat for Humanity. Throughout the year, various members of different fraternities and sororities volunteered their time and helped fundraise for Habitat for Humanity.
The event began at 7 p.m. as a DJ entertained guests as everyone filtered in, and the judges took their places on the floor of the arena. Prior to the first act, the sponsors of the event were introduced via videos played on projectors, one of which was RadioFlag. For the first time ever, the event was being broadcast via their service, and there were awards given to the various acts based on the votes of the listeners.
The first performance of the night was by Chinese Association Dance Crew, who kicked off the event with a high-energy performance. Next, the judges were introduced to their audience. An esteemed panel of guests judged the performances, and each act was judged on their vocal performances, scenery and costume design, choreography and overall entertainment value. The judges included UCI’s very own Dean of Students Rameen Talesh, who was judging the performances for their overall entertainment value.
The first performance of the night (besides CADC) was “The Wild Party,” performed by Alpha Epsilon Pi, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Kappa Alpha. Each act impressed in various ways that exceeded expectations for the truncated musicals that they performed. Each sorority and fraternity (or fraternities) that was paired together that performed had not only impressive choreography, but also (sometimes) stellar vocal performances that really took their acts to a new level.
“The Wild Party” featured a tale of seduction and betrayal, and ended with a death of one of the main characters. Despite this first performance not winning any of the big awards, it was still a great start to a night of singing and dancing, all for a great cause that benefited the overall Orange County community.
Next was the American classic “Westside Story,” performed by Delta Gamma and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The highlight of their performance was all of the different fight scenes that “Westside Story” is known for, as well as the iconic number “I Feel Pretty.” The choreography in their act stayed true to the original, and the different accents attempted by the actors were appreciated. In addition, both Greek organizations raised more money for the cause than any of the other Greek pairings and also received the first ever viewer’s choice award for best overall performance through RadioFlag’s service.
The next two acts, “South Pacific” by Gamma Phi Beta and Phi Kappa Psi and “American Idiot” by Sigma Kappa, Bi Theta Pi and Sigma Nu both had their share of entertaining moments. The costume design in both of these performances were great, with the sailor outfits of “South Pacific” and the punk-rock garb of “American Idiot” adding to the atmosphere and overall entertainment value that both were striving to obtain.
Even though “American Idiot” didn’t have the strongest vocal performances of the night, the performer who played the lead male role of Johnny received the award for best male vocal performance as well as the award for best choreography.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” performed by Pi Beta Phi, FIJI and Sigma Pi took the stage next. It was this performance that was most impressive, as each of the lead roles were filled by talented performers that excelled in both the vocal and dance aspects of their respective parts. The costume and set design also clearly conveyed the time period that the musical takes place in: New York, 1922.
After their performance, the bar was clearly set for the remaining field of performers to contest, but none could top “Thoroughly Modern Mille” by the end of the night. The strongest aspect of this performance was the talent of Madeline Oberto of Pi Beta Phi, who received an award for the best female vocal performance of the night. Madeline led the group to their overall first-place finish, receiving the highest honor from the judges.
The following performance of Alpha Chi Omega and Sigma Phi Epsilon in “Bye Bye Birdie” was also impressive, with the story of an Elvis-like rock music icon in the sleepy Midwestern town of Sweet Apple, Ohio. The production efforts of these two Greek organizations were recognized by the judges, as they received the awards for the best set design, as well as third-place overall in the competition.
“Next to Normal” as performed by Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Epsilon Pi told the story of a dysfunctional family, which included a disturbed, bi-polar mother who can’t accept the long-past death of her son. It was probably one of the more heart-wrenching performances of the night, and served as a slight diversion from the rest of the acts.
The eighth act of the night was “Guys and Dolls,” by Alpha Phi and Sigma Chi. Their overall performance was impressive, and their costumes were extremely well-done and convincing. “Guys and Dolls” was one of the most entertaining acts of the night, and was recognized for their efforts with the award for second in the overall competition, right behind the stellar “Thoroughly Modern Mille.”
The last Greek performance was by Delta Delta Delta and Kappa Sigma in the famous musical “Hairspray.” While their performance was entertaining with all the popular numbers and costume design that “Hairspray” is known for, the efforts of “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Guys and Dolls” and “Thoroughly Modern Mille” stole the spotlight and stuck out as the best performances of the night.
After the last Greek performance, several Songfest alumni performed a number from Glee, which was a fun way to close out the musical aspect of the night, celebrating the legacy that Songfest has at the UCI campus. Closing out the night was the ever-impressive Kaba Modern as the judges wrapped up their decisions.
In the end, Songfest was an entertaining night that illustrated all the hard work that Greek life at UCI has been doing all year for Habitat for Humanity, and recognized them for their efforts. It was clear to everyone in attendance that the Greek organizations here at UCI are active in the community and dedicated to their philanthropic endeavors, as just over $45,000 was raised for the great cause that is Habitat for Humanity.