Photos by Eric Shea.
Grant Engle | Staff Writer
Group 6 Boys stood behind the black curtain on the Amphitheater stage. Some of them were sweating and hopping around. Others stood calmly with their eyes closed, whispering instructions to themselves and going over the routine they have practiced for weeks.
The boys were the first act of the 29th annual Air Band Competition for the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. The pressure was on them to start the show with a bang.
Masters of ceremonies Bryce Hanson and Parker Benedict introduced the group to a crowd of about 400 in the Amp. As they were introduced, the butterflies seemingly flew from their stomachs, and a look of stone-cold confidence came across their faces.
The group’s theme, “Sesame Street,” was an instant fan favorite. The songs “C is for Cookie” and “Rubber Ducky” drew cheers and applause from children and adults.
In the heart of the set, a Clubber wheeled a garbage can to center stage, but the boys were not ready to clean up. A young man popped out of the garbage can dressed as Oscar the Grouch and lip-synced “I Love Trash.” The stunt drew a huge cheer from the gallery.
Another highlight of the night was the “Board in Chautauqua” theme from the Group 8 Girls. The group used clever connections between the songs performed and the games they represented. The glue that tied the performance together was the need for board games on rainy days at the Institution.
“Twist and Shout” by the Beatles played when the team represented the popular game Twister, and the group transitioned the medley of songs through the sound of a bell tower in the rain. The girls’ creativity garnered a huge applause from the Chautauqua faithful.
Group 7 Boys unquestionably produced the most squeals and shrieks from girls in the audience. The team’s “Boybands: Through the Decades” theme took the audience through a musical journey that started with the first British sensation, the Beatles, and ended with the newest pop culture phenomenon from across the pond: One Direction.
The theme “A Voice for the Villains” from the Group 2 Girls immediately piqued the crowd’s curiosity. The girls’ signature moment of the performance was the song “Cruella de Vil” from the film “101 Dalmatians.”
The girls dressed in spotted Dalmatian costumes as another young lady wore a black wig with a gray streak, who expertly lip-synced the classic Disney tune.
It was the debut Air Band performance for Group 2 Girls, and the crowd sent them off with one of the night’s loudest ovations.
Other highlights from the show included Group 3 Girls jamming to reggae music, a member of Group 8 Boys donning a dress for the song “There She Goes (Doo Wah Diddy)” and Group 5 Girls performing the recent hit “Call Me Maybe.”
As the final scores for the five categories and overall winner were calculated, the entertainment continued with the Counselors in Training from Club performing their own choreographed Air Band performance.
After that, the crowd witnessed expert juggler and longtime Chautauquan Don Rapp execute a juggling routine with clubber Heather Jahrling. The display left the crowd mesmerized, and the two received a standing ovation at the end of their set.
In the end, the girls of the Senior Athletic Club, who performed hits from Johnny Cash, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Whitney Houston took home the prize for Best Overall for their “We are Legends”-themed performance.
Gabby Salva, SAC Girls counselor, said her Clubbers put a tremendous amount of effort into their rehearsals during the past weeks, and that energy translated onto the stage in the Amp.
“For most of these girls, it’s their last chance to compete in Air Band,” Salva said. “I’m so proud of them. They had so much energy on stage”
This is the second consecutive year the SAC Girls have won Best Overall. Sam O’Leary, who was on the winning squad last year, said the minutes before the performance were tense.
“I was a little nervous and shaken,” O’Leary said. “But, once you get on stage you realize you can do it, and all your nerves go away.”
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