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UI freshmen to bring show choir to campus this coming fall

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | MAY 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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With shows such as “Glee” and movies such as Pitch Perfect bursting into the pop-culture scene, it is no surprise show choir is becoming more popular than ever.

Show choir at a college level, however, is still a fairly new idea.

Two students, Katie Boothroyd and Tanner Riley, will bring this idea to life on campus with the founding of the University of Iowa’s Old Gold Show Choir. The group will hold its first-ever auditions on Sept. 6 and 8, with optional workshops to be held the weeks before.

“I would say I started it for two reasons,” said cofounder Riley. “First, because I think it really is a form of entertainment that isn’t currently met in the community. Second, I love performing, and show choir covers all aspects of a performance in one.”

Boothroyd has similar beliefs, and she noted how much she and Riley missed the event after high school. Once they had the idea, the two began researching how to start the UI’s show choir, reaching out to the six other Big Ten schools that have their own groups.

They also delved into the UI’s history, getting the name Old Gold Show Choir from a former group on campus.

“Iowa had a swing choir, known as the Old Gold Singers, like the early form of show choir,” Boothroyd said. “[Riley] and I really want to honor that group — directors, students, and members — because they really founded show choir at Iowa, and we’re just bringing it back.”

Show choir’s return seems to have come at an opportune moment — the UI will offer a new musical-theater major next semester.

“We need to see how show choir will evolve. To me, it’s a natural connection [between show choir and musical theater], but how that connection will work, I don’t know yet,” said Alan MacVey, the head of the Theater Department and faculty adviser to the Old Gold Show Choir. “I think it’s a great way for students to have fun and learn.”

Boothroyd and Riley appreciate the support and assistance from MacVey, but all three stress that the group will be entirely student-run.

“When we were brainstorming on how we’d be run, we thought we could either have it be led by a faculty director or it could be student-run,” Boothroyd said. “Obviously, there’s some controversy over whether having students be in charge of the entire group will make it less professional, but at the collegiate level, you have to distinguish yourself from the high-school level. Being student-led will hold members more accountable and responsible.”

A student from the Dance Department, Shelby McMurray, will choreograph the entire set.

Boothroyd and Riley are glad to be starting the group as freshmen, given that the high dependency on students will make transitional years difficult. However, the two plan for the group to continue for many years.

“Obviously, at least every three or four years, there will be student turnover, so to make sure it doesn’t fall to the wayside, the faculty adviser is there to be the backbone of the organization during these transitions and make sure Old Gold continues,” Boothroyd said.

Boothroyd and Riley both hope for Old Gold to live on for many years, because it is a performance style that both are passionate about.

“Show choir is such a special type of performance,” Boothroyd said. “You can’t get it from just being in straight theater or choir.”


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