Community Concerts of RSF Review: VoicePlay a winning combination of great ‘music’ and comedy

By Jack Wheaton, PhD

People need to laugh; the two pleasures of music are laughter and healing – it’s so  good for us!  For those who missed the Community Concerts of Rancho Santa Fe’s Nov. 9 VoicePlay concert, too bad.  It was something special — probably not to be seen and heard again in Rancho Santa Fe in the near future.

We were entertained for two hours or more with wall-to-wall music, dancing (choreography), and special effects (screen),

all without musical instruments

— all “a cappella” meaning

without instrumental accompaniment.

So what did I hear?  I heard drums, a bass-line, soprano, alto, and tenor voices, all performing together, singing mostly what some would call “do-wop” music — yes, unaccompanied. Who needs musical instruments!  Do-Wop music started on the street-corners of Philadelphia in the ‘50s, later captured on film in the picture “Rocky.”

So what are you hearing?  You are hearing, mostly well-known male vocal-group tunes, some originals and some tunes from the folk, country and jazz world.

The instrumentation: Earl Elkins – tenor and often the comedian, Geoff Castelucci — the bass parts; Layne Stein — mouth-drummer; Eli Jacobson – vocalist, also often the comedian; and Tony Wakim — vocal harmony.  Guys all from Orlando, Florida and have been together for years. It makes a difference.

From the ‘40s on, there have been all-male quartets, quintets, etc:, such as The “Ink Spots,” the “Platters,” the “Temptations, etc., all contributing to this new musical form. But all of them used live music and live musicians playing regular instruments to accompany themselves.

It isn’t too late to hear some of their songs and arrangements. They have recently changed their name to VoicePlay (quite appropriately!).  Visit www.thevoiceplay.com for more information about the group.

Besides their talented music, these guys were funny. They did not take themselves too seriously, and they used all the tricks-of-the trade in the live-performance world:

(1) Introductions via off-stage voice — projecting words on a screen

(2) Audience participation

(3) In-group ribbing and laughing — but still making good music

(4) Keeping the show moving at a fast pace — no “dead air”

(5) Costume adjustments

(6) Choreography.

My only wish is that they would have tackled a bit of something classical — like the Bach Prelude in C major, something “jazzy,” more Broadway show stuff.

All in all, no one there could complain about not being entertained.

These guys were different, funny, well-rehearsed, and musically sound.

Were they “inspirational?  It all depends on how you define the word.

Would I go again to see them?  You bet!

A bouquet to the committee that so far has brought outstanding groups with new approaches to music to Rancho Santa Fe.

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