Review: Voca People
A bizarro a cappella group gets in tune.
Fri Jul 15 2011
Photograph: Leon Sokoletski
BEYOND THE PALE The Voca People cast has a harmonic convergence.
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Whenever Voca People sing, it's hard to shake the feeling that you're at a taping of America's Got Talent. This quirky a cappella novelty act is exactly the sort of thing you'd see on that TV competition—or on YouTube. (One of the troupe's videos has 8.6 million hits and counting.) The eight talented noisemakers—six singers, one scratcher and one beat-boxer, all (ironically?) outfitted like mimes with bald pates—are impressive when they're just doing their thing, careering through medleys filled with famous melodies by everyone from Mozart to Michael Jackson. But when the music stops, so does the momentum.
The conceit is slight: The performers are aliens whose ship has crash-landed on Earth, and they need the "power of musica" to get it working again. By touching humans, they instantly download an extensive catalog of our greatest hits, which they reproduce sans instruments in creative and rich arrangements (courtesy of cocreator Shai Fishman). Between numbers, they engage in minimally amusing audience interaction—otherwise known as filler—as they learn our ways and customs, and make obvious pop-culture jokes. (Can we call a moratorium on Spider-Man gags, please?) By the end of the evening, one pretty young lady has been wooed, a trio of guys have been manhandled, and tourists and families are smiling. Yes, the harmonies are otherworldly, but the rest is pure hokum.