Glee says ‘Text Me Merry Christmas’

This year the UNI Men’s Varsity Glee Club’s 40th annual Christmas Variety Show play was titled “Revenge of the Elves.”


This last weekend marked the 40th annual Christmas Variety Show featuring the UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club. All three performances — at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday — sold out to 1,500 guests.

Before the show, Glee Club Director John Wiles asked for the house lights to be brought up and for audience members who had been part of the show in years past to stand and be recognized. Wiles also made mention of the passing of Les Hale, the founder and former director of the Glee Club.

After these introductions, the glee club opened the show with “We Need a Little Christmas,” as is the tradition every year. Other favorites were “Low How a Rose E’er Blooming,” “The First Noel” and Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.”

The rest of the program included “Ascendit Deus,” “Veni Creator Spiritus” by Timothy Takach, “Little Drummer Boy” and the humorous “Text Me Merry Christmas.”

The show’s final song was a cover of “You Will Be Found” from the Broadway play “Dear, Evan Hansen.” In the middle of this performance, Glee Club member Mitch Leonard came forward to remind audience members that no matter what they are going through, they are not alone and they are loved.

“The glee club believes in the power of music to help lift up, inspire and make the world a better place,” said Michael Alexander, a senior Glee Club member majoring in communication studies. “We do that not just for ourselves, but we do it for the community. We believe in the power of music to do that, and music is a very powerful form of art. And it is something that resonates within us, and it can help us through any struggles that we’re going through.”

Throughout the night, there was a running joke that Glee Club member Colin Mattox had his own talent agency. Mattox introduced Ryan Daisy as the glee club’s most talented member. As Daisy showed off his lunging skills to “Eye of the Tiger,” the rest of the club gasped in awe.

Mattox’s second talent offering was Zachary Archer’s canvas painting. Wiles was unimpressed by both Daisy and Archer. Finally, Mattox introduced flutist Azeem Ward to play “Carol of the Bells.” Wiles far preferred this offering — as did the roaring audience.

Mackenzie Dorsey, a sophomore English education major, attended the show for the first time Saturday night.

“I think that the humor really adds to it,” Dorsey said. “It’s a good combination between actual music, and having the play involved made it more relaxed and had a good vibe about it.”

Written by A.J. Royer and Keaton Hull, this year’s play was called “Revenge of the Elves.”

The play was set at North Pole University and narrated by the Cat in the Hat, who explained to the audience that fame had made Santa’s reindeer arrogant. As a result, some of the elves were determined to beat the reindeer at their own game — the reindeer games.

The reindeer games were judged by a parody of comedian Gilbert Gottfried. While the reindeer team was comprised of Santa’s classic reindeer, the elf team drew on fictional characters and pop culture references.

Buddy the Elf, Hermey from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Legolas from “The Lord of the Rings,” the Keebler elf, Elf on a Shelf and Dobby from “Harry Potter,” as well as Snap, Crackle and Pop were all included.

The reindeer games featured competitive sleigh-pulling, baking, dancing and a tug-o-war. Santa Claus showed up at the end to remind the two teams that college and Christmas are similar: both scenarios are better when you accept each other for who they are, despite their differences.

The evening also included the SingPins covering “Men of Erin” by The Elders and “Seven Bridges Road” by The Eagles. The SingPins are an audition-based acapella group comprised of Glee Club members under the direction of music education major and fifth-year senior Will Lubaroff.

Other featured performances of the night included UNITUBA playing “Grinch Medley” and later assisting the Glee Club with “Iceland Yule Lads.”

The UNI Children’s Chorus sang “Keep Following the Star” by Greg Gilpin and “Christmas Lullaby” by John Rutter, while Orchesis Dance Company performed to “Underneath the Tree” by Kelly Clarkson.

As the glee club harmonized, UNI senior and solo artist Rachel Bearinger played her original song “Who You Are;” Bearinger also contributed guitar to “Seven Bridges Road.” Percussionist Patrick Cunningham and pianist Isaac Smith accompanied the glee club throughout the show; Smith also performed a solo piano piece.

For the grand finale, the Glee Club members transformed into the Arthur Murder dancers. As always, the dancers performed in tutus to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” and “The Can-Can.” They finished by spelling out “Happy Holidays” via lettered sheets of paper, an alteration from the previous year’s “Merry Christmas.”

Emily Dvorak, a sophomore majoring in health promotions, was one of the many UNI students in the attendance.

“It’s like a big ball of joy,” Dvorak said about the show. “The lights and the energy the guys have — it’s cool.”

The Glee Club members themselves said they had just as much pride in the show.

“[The show] really does bring in the Christmas mood and the Christmas spirit,” Lubaroff said. “It’s the perfect time to kind of start the Christmas season and get people excited for it. And I think it kind of brings back all those warm childhood memories of Christmas past and all of that. It’s a lot of fun.”