Black floors. Black curtain. Black walls. A slight tension builds as the darkness looms. It’s quiet in Todd Theatre as the sold-out crowd maintains a steady and patient silence awaiting the UR Performing expos. Man bolts out from the darkness a streak of light. Like a bouncing jackrabbit on a powerful stimulant, he runs out, announcing, ‘Ladies and gentlemen we have a spectacular compilation for you!”

And the show began. A potpourri of performing groups together make up UR Performing. The exhibition, a poster child for diversity, is tough to review the variety of groups that perform and the short stage time each has makes critiquing difficult.
It was led by junior emcee and program director Doug Zeppenfeld, the veritable star of the show, who managed to sew the disparate acts together into a seamless hour-long show.

‘This turned me on to In Between The Lines and The Opposite Of People… I really think it’s great because it allows people who aren’t necessarily going on to the big scene to still express their creativity and perform in front of an audience,” sophomore Julian Steinfield, who also saw the show last year, said.

First, In Between the Lines. For those of you who don’t know IBTL and have been living under a rock for the last decade, they’re the University’s resident improv group. They performed a series of skits centering around a goat, named Sparkles, owned by Harold (junior David Kaplan). Actually, Sparkles the goat has a twin. Harold lives a life where ‘the whole time it’s been me and Sparkles living alone in a one- bedroom apartment… I’ve had no mother and no father and I breast fed myself as a child.”

Harold then discovers his mother, Ms. Robinson who, whaddya know, lives on the first floor of the same apartment building. Harold and Ms. Robinson both discover that Harold has two brothers who also live in the same apartment building. They all eat mashed potatoes at Ms. Robinson’s apartment with Mr. Robinson. Happy ending. Make sense? Doesn’t have to.

Afro-Expressions: This group performs traditional African dancing and look roughly like a horde of dancing iguanas. They make sweeping, looping motions with their bodies as African drums beat rhythmically in the background.

‘I like to feel the energy of the crowd,” senior Kelvin Hunter, the sole male dancer in Afro-Expressions, said. ‘First, I feel nervous till I get the beat.”

Radiance had an impressive entrance with the clickity-clack of their shoes. They performed to smooth jazz and gave an all around solid show for their five minutes on stage.

Indulgence. Summed up by five words: Shake, shake, shake that thing. Their act was impressively choreographed. The dancers made a duality with their bodies, one side mirroring the other, with smoothness only seen by a well-rehearsed and talented crew.
Japanese Matsuri. I call this the flying red wombat group, aptly named for the look of their silky jackets and their dance moves. Only three members showed up, so not much to say here. Their background music was groovy though.

The Opposite of People (TOOP) stormed out in their cute purple uniforms to perform short skits between other acts.TOOP is a student acting group whose name rhymes with poop. That’s OK, though. They’re the shit. Much of TOOP’s material is self-written, like junior James Eles’s monologue on his love affair with caffeine. Coffee, he says, is a way for him to cope with the world. ‘I don’t have any problem here,” he said. ‘But you want me to put my cup down and walk away? Well, f*ck you! You do not know me! You expect me to just go home to my grotesque lump of a wife and my brainless spineless bastard children? No!”

And when he puts coffee to his lips and feels relief surging through him, ‘For the grace that you have to pick me up off the ground. For that, I would do anything for you. What about that time that guy came out of nowhere on 390 and I helped hide the body?” Outside of acting, Eles is still adamant about his self-professed addiction.

‘I wanted to talk about something that I knew about and the problem in my life,” he said. ‘The biggest problem in being addicted to caffeine is the denial. Why should I quit? I love it, I’m never going to quit.”

Another highlight of TOOP’s act was an acerbic satire on the archetype of our overworked and overworking student body.

‘I’m a triple major bio chem, chem E, electrical engineering, minor in music,” freshman Peter Carlisle said in his skit, ‘This is the first time I’ve been outside this semester.” He proceeded to introduce his textbook as ‘Houghton, my best friend.” Ah, the life of a student.

Is Houghton your best friend? Want to get out of your dorm but are not sure what to do? Keep an eye on these groups.

Otis is a member of
the class of 2011.

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