Orlando a cappella group reinvents classic songs with “VoicePlay”

A cappella powerhouse VoicePlay treated students and community members alike to quite the show in its Geneseo debut on Saturday Feb. 1, sponsored by Limelight & Accents. Through a combination of playful humor, vocal finesse and imaginative skits, VoicePlay delivered a remarkably multifaceted performance and managed to fully captivate its audience from start to finish.Based out of Orlando, Fla., VoicePlay started out as a street corner barbershop act founded by Earl Elkins, Jr., Layne Stein and Geoff Castellucci. Along the way, the group picked up Eliezer “Eli” Jacobson and Tony Wakim, and together, the five-man team creates an impressive symphony of sounds. The group experienced a particularly meteoric rise to the forefront with its exposure from season four of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” in which the group placed fifth overall. The group now refocuses its musical abilities into a full-stage production with surprising diversity. In its performance, VoicePlay set the tone for the evening by delivering a powerful rendition of “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, with members demonstrating beautiful blending skills and impressive octave range. The a cappella artisans then proceeded to deliver a series of strong covers peppered throughout the show, from the slightly obscure “Elvira” by The Oak Ridge Boys to the pop ‘70s hit “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. And though a majority of VoicePlay’s set list seemed targeted toward an older demographic, the group’s inherent creativity and talent was apparent.

Sinead Haelgeland/Staff Photographer

The group’s near limitless utilization of the human voice was astounding as members continually revealed unexpected and interesting routines. In one instance, the group used physical movements and vocalized sound effects to create the illusion of a car ride, while also singing covers that would quickly and abruptly shift to imitate the effect of changing a radio station. To open the second act, the group put together an entire piece exclusively using sounds from water bottles. Toward the end of the performance, vocal percussionist Stein played an imaginary drum set using only his mouth. The quintet also explicitly emphasized audience interaction and campy humor throughout its performance. From “auditioning” a gentleman selected from the audience to encouraging audience members to barrage them with marshmallows, VoicePlay expertly maintained its lively demeanor, continually defying expectations in the process. With its diversity in style, vocal aptitude and zany antics, VoicePlay lived up to its name and provided its own distinctive and memorable brand of musical entertainment.