A Change of Pace With Abbot Cabaret

Last Saturday night, the 2009 Abbot Cabaret gave Phillips Academy students just the right dosage of laughter and live music to break up the monotony of winter term. MCs Billy Fowkes ’10 and B.J. Garry ’10, Phillipian Features Editors, opened the show, which Dan Austin ’10 and John Grunbeck ’09 produced. They told jokes and kept the audience laughing throughout the evening with their “live feed” videos filmed all over campus. Content ranged from Garry and Fowkes assisting Tom Hamel ’10 out of a tree to sharing a moment over their favorite show, MTV’s “Bromance.” Garry and Fowkes also kept up a running gag with impersonations of Carlos Hoyt, Assistant Dean of Students, Flagstaff Cluster Dean Clyfe Beckwith and Paul Murphy, Dean of Students. “They did a great job with the imitations. B.J. [bore] a striking resemblance to Mr. Hoyt,” joked Michael Scognamiglio ’10. Another highlight of the night was “Let’s Duet” by Dab Austin ’10 and Bobby Vardaro ’10. The pair turned many heads with their wittily racy song, typically sung by a man and woman. Austin played the female role and did a remarkably good job, resulting in fits of laughter from the audience. Austin said, “I was happy to see that [our act] came out well… we didn’t get too nervous, and I was glad to see how the audience reacted.” Under the Bed, Andover’s improv group, broke up the music-heavy lineup with many off-the-cuff one-liners. They performed skits with inspiration from the audience to get them started and had a rap battle, pitting two teams against each other as they tried to create rhymes from audience-generated words. “I especially enjoyed the rap battle between the Under the Bed actors. They were witty and quick on their feet,” said Alex Gray ’10. 7 Layer Crunchwrap Supreme, who were missing bassist Bijan Torabi ’10 and lead vocalist Duncan Crystal ’10, still played as loud as ever. Matt Renner ’10 and Phil Hofer ’10, the two remaining members, played a headbanging anthem titled, “A Serenade from Matt and Phil.” Austin said, “Phil [Hofer] and Matt [Renner] of 7 Layer Crunchwrap Supreme did a hell of a job. Matt was shredding on the guitar.” The Nick Poland Band, featuring Nick Poland ’09 on electric guitar and vocals, performed the song “Little Wing.” Ending the show on a great note, Poland provided guitar solos that were mind-bendingly complex. “From when Nick Poland came in we knew he would be great, he blew our mind with the solos,” Austin said Fruit Loops, Sam Weiss’s one-man band, was an equally impressive musical performance. Weiss used an electric guitar and a looping machine to create repeating chords and then played drums and sang over the loops, showcasing his various musical talents in one cohesive piece. Two and a Half Asians gave a moving performance, performing “Diary of Jane,” a song originally by Breaking Benjamin. Renner and Curtis Hon ’10 sang as Dominick Chang ’11 played guitar and Bobby Chen ’10 played cello. The cello provided an especially poignant aspect to the punk-rock song that usually features loud electric guitars. Campus “coffeehouse classic” acts did not disappoint the audience and gave the audience a good mix of old and new material. Charlie Walters ’10 read a powerful, original poem called “Steal Your Face.” Preceding the bevy of musical numbers, it was poignant and fresh. He was followed by Unofficial Talk, with Casey McQuillen ’11 performing one of her original songs “Enough.” Azure, Andover’s all-girl a capella group, debuted their rendition of “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé. The singing was excellent, but the boys dancing in front stole the show. The group recruited Walters, Eli Grober ’09 and Mike Discenza ’09 to perform the same dance moves that Beyoncé did in her music video. The Yorkies, Andover’s male a capella group, followed Azure singing various “classic Yorkies” songs, the most entertaining of which was based on their genitalia. The line “Take a look at my enormous penis!” simultaneously shocked the audience and made them laugh. No strangers to performing, Lily Shaffer ’10 and Avery Stone ’10 performed Taylor Swift’s “Forever and Always” with the help of Scotty Fleming ’10 on drums and Ellie DiBerardino ’09 on bass. “Playing Abbot Cabaret was really fun, because there were so many people at both the shows. I lost my voice, so I was a little nervous, but overall the show went great,” Stone said. Marshawn, comprised of DiBerardino, Weiss, Alex Kalil ’09 and Zach Fine ’11, came onstage, but before they sang, Weiss claimed that the Yorkies had stolen their opening song, causing the audience to burst into laughter. Marshawn went on to perform an original song. “I can always expect great original songs from Marshawn. They never fail to impress,” said Scognamiglio. The Fast and Oforious followed with a song called “Brutal Honesty.” The audience reacted well to this well-established band and their instrumental performance. Though the event itself ran smoothly, the audience was oblivious to the difficulties the producers faced just before the show. Austin said, “The hardest thing was trying to find a piano. The day of [the show] we had [to choose] between getting a keyboard and deciding if we wanted a 48-key or 88-key [piano].” Choosing wasn’t the only problem. “We tried to get one through the Theater and Music Departments, but it didn’t really work,” Austin said. “We put [the entire show] together in about two weeks, so there wasn’t a lot of extra time to plan things.” Money raised by the show was donated to CEO 4 Teens a organization co-founded by Brooks Dyroff ’09 that provides micro-credit opportunities for teenagers in underprivileged areas. With the help of Hofer, the producers smoothed out all the kinks before showtime. Austin said, “We were working with Phil Hofer so we got all of WPAA’s equipment, so that helped, Phil was a huge help.” For future Abbot Cabarets, though, Austin would begin the whole process earlier. “We only gave [potential performers] a notice a week before [auditions] happened. Maybe we should start at the end of fall term.” Despite the short notice, the night was a blast. The light-hearted atmosphere helped the community forget about stress and snow for a little, relax and just enjoy the show.