REVIEW: “Riff-Off” themed Lip-Sync Battle grooves its way into a successful three-night event


Daniel Pahutan

Team leaders (left to right) Jonathan, Dalia, Mikaela, and Olivia stand alongside MC Hailey. The four judges had to spin the wheel to determine what category they will perform.

Kaitlyn Valenzuela, A&E Editor

As I walk through the doors of the black box theater, I am immediately greeted by the commotion of actors who are rushing back and forth getting their outfits and props organized for their first dress rehearsal. Loud laughter fills the room with silly jokes that only theater kids would most likely understand; thumping caused by their running around can be felt under my feet; choreography directions can be heard to my left; distant, muffled music is being played through someone’s phone (“Run the World” by Beyoncé to be exact); the aroma of fast food lingers in the room from actors trying to squeeze in a quick dinner, knowing that it is going to be a long rehearsal; a stressed adviser sets up the next song for one of the competeing teams. It was Hell Week for theater and the final arrangments and rehearsals were taking place every day until opening night.

I have to say, I was astonished at how professional the rehearsals were going especially because the teams were being led and choreographed by the team captains — Dalia, Mikaela, Jonathan, and Olivia. I had the opportunity to watch Dalia’s team perform a song during rehearsal, and I was blown away by how instructional her team was when they made adjustments to their choreography. I was most impressed with Andreia Sales, one of Dalia’s team members, take over the choreography because not only was she so professional, but she was able to demonstrate the dance to another teammate and sing the song without the music.

When I walked out of the MPR after witnessing their rehearsals first-hand, I realized these kids were going to kill it on stage on opening night; I was excited. Next thing I knew, I was sitting front row on Thursday night absolutely amazed at the vivid performances that struck the entire crowd and the judges. But the best part? All three nights of the show were different.

Daniel Pahutan
Friday night’s judges: Mr. Poteet, Dr. Cabrera, Mr. Lemen, and Mr. Swift. Only 20% of the judges’ votes were counted to determine the winning team.

This year’s lip-sync battle theme was “riff-off” which is derived from the 2012 blockbuster film Pitch Perfect in which teams spin a wheel that has a variety of categories and must perform a song from that category. What the theater class did differently though was add choreography, props, and lip-syncing instead of utilizing actual vocals. The categories on the wheel were “Divas,” “We ♥ Boybands,” “R.I.P. Artists,” “Guilty Pleasures,” “Deming’s Playlist,” “Songs my parents danced to at prom,” “I feel like a kid again,” with the bonus categories of “Judge’s choice” and “You Choose.”

Watching all of the teams perform was exhilarating, making me want to dance and sing along with them. The teams chose great, catchy songs for the categories, and I’m not lying when I say that I downloaded most of the songs they performed as soon as I got home. With unforgettable performances from opening night, it only made me more eager to watch the remaining shows.

Dalia and Jonathan’s teams were the two teams that impressed me the most because of every team member’s ability to meticulously, but entertainingly, perform their choreography (songs choices were the best too!). When it came down to the “We ♥ Boybands” category, Jonathan’s team used the strategy of combining three songs into one performance — a performance that amazed the crowd and judges. Songs by New Kids on the Block, NSYNC, and Boys II Men was a favorite of audience members. Every night the crowd cheered, whistled, and hollered for this number, and I’ll admit I did too.

However, when the wheel landed on the “Deming’s Playlist” category, Dalia’s team chose the song “Supersonic” by J.J. Fad and performed one of the best dance numbers of the night. Although I’m sure Mrs. Deming’s playlist is filled with iconic songs that make everyone want to dance, this one was the best song choice for a charismatic team like Dalia’s. Her team flawlessly gave a totally tubular performance and practically looked like an actual all-female 90s hip-hop group making it my favorite performance.

Daniel Pahutan
Dalia’s team perform J.J. Fad’s “Supersonic” during the “Deming’s Playlist” category. This was a favorite among the audience and judges, granting them much praise.

But a competition is not complete without a host! Hailey Scott was the master of ceremonies (MC) for the lip-sync battle who conducted the team captains to spin the wheel, received commentary from the judges, explained the categories, and measured the decibels of the crowd’s cheer to determine the winner for each round. She was very interactive with the audience and judges creating a comfortable environment by telling jokes and keeping everyone entertained while the teams got the stage ready backstage.

The method they chose to determine a winner was enjoyable because it was influenced by 80% audience and 20% judges. As stated before, Hailey measured the decibels of the crowd’s cheers through a “handy-dandy” app on her phone and the judges determined a winner by scoring the teams on a scoring sheet. The decibel points and judges’ points were totaled together, coming up with the winning team — Jonathan’s team won first place opening night (Thursday) and Dalia’s team won first place on Friday and Saturday night.

Overall, everyone who was a part of this fun experience deserved a standing ovation and much praise. New talents arose, and I was most impressed at the leadership the theater students took on since it was all done by them with no specific directions by Mrs. Deming, only receiving feedback from her (which only some of them probably took). Who knew theater kids could dance?!

This has definitely established a new and loved tradition within the theater department. The lip-sync battle will no doubt become a favorite among the Conquistador family and will continue to entertain for years to come. Once again, but for the final time of the 2017-2018 school year, the theater classes have offered their breathtaking talent to their classmates, friends, teachers, and families.

Daniel Pahutan
Many audience members attended all three nights to get the full experience of a riff-off. Each night resulted in different performances and different teams competing against each other.