Fleet Street Singers
March 30, 2018
The Fleet Street Singers are an all-male comedy a cappela group from Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. Founded in 1981, the original group sang Stanford fight songs and barbershop quartet style tunes. Fleet Street now consists of 12 fresh-faced young men – mostly in their late teens, with only two members of legal drinking age. Their 2018 Hawaiian Penguin Tour was sponsored by the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival (HPAF).
I arrived early for Fleet Street’s show to catch their soundcheck and meet Jeri Gertz, the director of Harmony On Tap (HOT) – a Big Island women’s a capella group that performs benefit concerts for non-profit groups and social service agencies.
“When we heard Fleet Street was coming to town,” said Gertz, “we wanted to make them feel welcome, from one a capella group to another. I noted that their signature look featured red bow ties, so I got the idea of making them Hawaiian-print ties as keepsakes, so they could take the Aloha with them when they left. We got tropical fabric pieces and some glue guns, and….voila!”
Prior to the show, I dragged Fleet Street to a back alley behind the theatre for a quick photo shoot sporting their new tropical bow-ties, with Gertz in front.
With only 15 minutes until the house doors opened, the group warmed up with several numbers. They articulated the precise sound they wanted with Pepe Romero, a Hilo audio engineer, and made sure the Palace Theatre’s light tech knew the cues for their 90-minute performance.
The house lights dimmed, and all the audience could see was glowing red lights on the stage curatins. From the balcony, there began a slow procession to the stage – faces lit only by a flickering candle. They were harmonizing on “Cuncti Potens,” a chant-like song by Calenda Maia, a Chilean band that performs medieval music. The serious moment quickly faded as they broke into a bit called “The Holy Joke.”
The rest of the evening was filled with similar vaudeville-style skits with updated themes. For example, a scene set in an internet café segued into the song “Web Surfin’,” done in pure Beach Boys harmony, but tongue-in-cheek.
The group really stood out on cover versions of Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and the Bee Gees’ pop ballad “How Deep is Your Love.” The rest of their repertoire consisted of original compositions written by current or previous Fleet Street members.
This evening’s performance was a fundraiser for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival’s scholarship funds. This year they are offering over $75,000 in scholarships, both to local students and those who come to the Big island to study with the Festival. HPAF also offers a Summer Festival (June 26 – July 21) with performances across Hawaii island. For their 2018 season, HPAF held auditions in eight cities across the country with 250 singers and selected the top performers to come to the Big Island this summer.
The Fleet Street Singers
Allan Grossman (19), Ben Hodder (21), Woo Gi Jung (20), Eric Kim (20), Trip Master (21), Liam McGregor (20), Connor Meany (21), Jeremy Raven (18), Arjun Sheth (19), Elliot Shi (19), Issac Smith (20), Chris Swenson (18).
Cuncti Potens | College | Web Surfin’ (skit) | Web Surfin’ | (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman | ASMR (skit) |Pokey (skit) | Pokey the Penguin | The Friendship Song | Detective Hospital (skit) | Mirror Mirror
Space Song | Stanford Girl |How Deep (skit) | How Deep is Your Love | Last Night | Barbie (skit) | Life Sized Barbie | Cartoon Theme Medley | Hawai’i Aloha
To learn more about the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, or how to sponsor a scholarship student, please visit: http://www.hawaiiperformingartsfestival.org
Follow The Fleet Street Singer’s via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StanfordFleetStreetSingers/
All photos by Steve Roby. ©2018