Choreographed Classics Performed in “We’ve Got Your Number.”

A new year means new beginnings, and new grooves. As Winter term carries on, one group of students are busying themselves with rigorous repetitions of song and dance. The EOU chamber choir, fresh off the heels of their initial return to live productions, are preparing for their first in-person performance of 2022 with “We’ve Got Your Number,” a choreographed collection of over twenty classic songs from numerous artists and productions, from “Hamilton” to The Beatles and sponsored by Red Cross Drug.  

Rehearsals began on Jan. 4 with 38 choir students taking part in the production. “We’ve Got Your Number” itself is a unique collection compiled by the EOU choir faculty. Professor of music and director of the chamber choir Peter Wordelman reflected on the drafting processes. 

“It’s a collection of songs that I usually create. So, we have to come up with a theme. The last one we did was called ‘Opposites Attract’, ‘Weather Report’ before that, and then we did ‘Life is a Highway,’ lots of songs about travel. So, we always come up with a theme. And in that theme, we try to identify different styles of popular songs. 

And it is these different themes of songs that give “We’ve Got Your Number” part of its unique spark, with hits from artists such as Taylor Swift, The Plain White T’s, along with “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” serving as the finale. However, the tracks are ordered in such a way as to avoid oversaturation or repetition of genre and theme, with Wordelman noting “So we’re trying to do these various songs, somehow tie them together and allow for all these different expressions.” 

Choir student and member of the performance Austin Nash gave his thoughts on the set up, stating, “The way it’s balanced is to never have four or five songs in a row that you’re ever going to be like ‘eh I wasn’t a big fan of that one.’ We try to intermix the genres so that there’s a little bit of something for everybody every couple songs.” 

“We’ve Got Your Number” also includes at least one student solo for each song. According to Nash, veteran choir students are given longer, and more numerous solos. Nash himself will be performing Hamilton’s solo in “Ten Duel Commandments”, and George Washington in “Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells the Story”.  

The songs are only half the performance, though. Choreography practice began on Jan. 9 with the entire choir taking part and 25 students learning additional parts for specific songs. Helming the choreography practice are Los Angeles based choreographers Billy Rugh and Michelle Benton. The 20-year choreography veterans have worked with EOU on numerous occasions, including the prior “Life is a Highway” and “Opposites Attract” productions. 

Wordelman reflected on the complexity of organizing the student solos and choreography, stating, “If you think about this whole production, Austin’s job for the production is to learn all of the singing, movement and the moving of props as needed. We know that he’s going to know his solo parts, so we don’t have to worry about that. But you have to piece all of that together with 38 people,”  

During a choreography rehearsal on Jan 12., the choir homed in on the specific motions for “One” by Three Dog Night, practicing walking on stage in synchronization, poses and motions for specific sections, all the way down to hand positions and which direction to point.  

Nash discussed the production’s progress and complexity up to that point, reflecting “It’s going pretty well, it’s a work in progress. It always feels like it’s not going to come together until the end and then everything comes together, and it works. There’s so much going on that I don’t know what the other solos sound like, because we haven’t done them in class, because we haven’t done them as a group yet, but by the time the show rolls around it will have all come together. A common thing I’ve experienced with most stage productions in general is that it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s going to come together until the very end when it just comes together.” 

The production is not the only thing coming together. “We’ve Got Your Number” is the chamber choir’s first on-campus production of ‘22 and only the Third in-person production since classes resumed. While the previous “All Together Now,” which according to Nash, “felt like a theater production whereas this feels like a musical production with theater elements,” brought student performers back to campus, “We’ve Got Your Number” is allowing choir students to step back into their niche and really perform as a group again. According to Nash, “Getting to be in the theater and rehearsing on the stage with everybody is great, something we haven’t been able to do for close to two years now.” 

And it is not just the students that have something to look forward to, but the EOU community as a whole. Still in the dead of winter and the pandemic, Wordelman hopes “We’ve Got Your Number” will be an opportunity for people to go out and experience something unique, stating “the reason we do it now is because at the end of January, beginning of February in La Grande, not many people are traveling, people are usually willing to get out of the house. Covid could change that, but if they go see something they want to see something fun that’s engaging.” 

And for the performers, it is the hope of audience engagement that helps keep them going. As put by Nash “As someone who’s been a performer in the show, the audience is a huge part of it. By the third show on the night of the second day we are exhausted and that whole show kind of just runs off the audience’s energy.” 

Tickets are on sale now for “We’ve Got Your Number,” playing at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, and at 3 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5, in McKenzie Theater in Loso Hall on EOU’s campus. Admission costs $8 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Group tickets cost $6 each when you purchase 10 or more. Group tickets must be purchased in-person. Tickets are available at Red Cross Drug, in the EOU Bookstore and online at Masks are required for all audience members. 

EOU chamber Choir 

Red Cross Drug 

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