By Maya Lyubomirsky
Student-run events have a bad reputation. Despite the hype, people often expect something messy or half-assed. However, ASUCI’s Soulstice completely subverted all expectations. The acts were spellbinding, the skits in between were genuinely hilarious, and the show in general was run with a seamless, professional grace. Clearly, the students behind Soulstice worked tirelessly to perfect everything, from their acts to the production of the show itself.
Soulstice is UCI’s annual talent show, put together by the 30 undergraduate students who make up the Soulstice Committee and Soulstice League. The Committee is in charge of directing and producing the show, and the Soulstice League is a comedy troupe who act as the hosts of the show and provide comic relief in-between acts.
The Soulstice League is as much a part of the show as the performers. I was amazed by the level of wit and innovation in their acts. They filmed and performed skits that parodied “Love Actually”, “Black Mirror”, “Evanescence”, “Chicago” (the Musical) and more, mercilessly satirizing UCI campus life and making a surprisingly effective commentary on issues that plague student life, like the campus shuttles, quality of food, and enrollment windows. I was especially impressed by the quality of the filmed videos. The intro graphics for “Zot Mirror” looked like something you’d see on TV, and the intro clips for the acts looked like they had been professionally filmed.
Each year, Soulstice brings in a panel of celebrity judges. This year, they invited Cody Linley, who played Miley’s boyfriend on “Hannah Montana”, Nancy Sullivan, who played Drake and Josh’s mom, Jane Sibbet, who played Ross’ lesbian ex-wife on “Friends”, Nicole Kirkland, a famous choreographer, and Jake Thomas, who played Matt McGuire on “Lizzie McGuire”. At the start of the night, the Soulstice hosts set the tone by asking each of them a funny question. Apparently, if Cody Linley was a pizza topping, he would be tempeh because it’s healthy and filling, and Jake Thomas’ go to shower song is his own version of Mulan’s “I’ll Make A Man Out of You.”
The talented students who appear on stage were required to go through a rigorous audition process, which clearly showed in the quality of their performances. There were five categories: dance, bands, acapella groups, exhibitionist, and solo/duet singing performances. All the performers were truly impressive, but there were of course some who stood out. As the only duet performance, two unassuming girls, Kiran and Nivi, performed a heartbreaking rendition of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down”. All of the dance and exhibition groups were excellent, aweing viewers with their flawless routines, but Chinese Association Tricking Team captivated us with their breakdancing and gravity-defying jumps and flips. The last act, Inaijsa’s solo performance of Cee Lo Green’s “Fool For You”, evoked a standing ovation from the audience.
After the last act, the audience was prompted to use their smartphones and follow the link projected on the screen to vote for the People’s Choice award winner. Winners in each category received a $100 prize, and the grand prize winner received $1000. Several other prizes were given out too. The Hustle Award went to the Vermillion Vocalists, who sang a rendition of Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry,” and the Best LeadAct award was given to the Soulstice Crew’s “Anteater Express” (a parody of “Wake Me Up Inside” by Evanescence). The celebrity judges went on to announce the winners in each category. Orange Casual won best Band, with an original song about the “90’s kids” trend.
Uniting Voices won best Acapella for their soulful performance, which got an uproarious response from the audience. Chinese Association Tricking Team won for best Dance, and Inaijsa swept the board, winning the People’s Choice award, best Solo/Duet, and also the Grand Prize.
Soulstice is undoubtedly worth going to. The high quality goes to show how talented, intelligent, witty, and hardworking students here at UCI are. For once, this is a student-run event that earns the hype.