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Glee club responds to Fox’s hit TV show

Kristen Durbin | Thursday, December 9, 2010

If fans of the hit TV series “Glee” are looking for the show’s signature combination of song, dance and drama at Notre Dame, they will only find one of those features in Notre Dame’s own Glee Club.

“Usually when I tell people I’m in Glee Club, they ask me if it’s like the show and I tell them it’s not,” Kyle Nieman, co-vice president of the club, said. “We definitely don’t dance.”

Although distinct differences exist between the fictional New Directions of “Glee” and the 70-member, all-male Glee Club at Notre Dame, the latter has not changed their group identity to match the choir stereotype created by the show.

“A lot of the guys in the club love ‘Glee,’ and others think it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world,” Michael Eardley, co-vice president of the Glee Club, said. “We haven’t changed our identity because the group has been successful long before Fox created ‘Glee,’ and the show reinforces what we are and were already doing.”

A major factor in the Glee Club’s traditional formula for success has been its characteristically hectic Christmas season, which included two performances at the Snite Museum of Art in the past two weeks and Christmas caroling in women’s residence halls at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

“Caroling in the girls’ dorms at Notre Dame went from 6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday,” Nieman said. “It’s a huge time commitment, but it’s a lot of fun.”

The club’s busiest time of year coincides with the busiest time of the semester in terms of schoolwork, but both Nieman and Eardley agreed that being busy with Glee Club provides an escape from the stress of papers and tests.

“Even though this is the time when we all have the most homework, everyone wants Glee to sing for their events,” Eardley said. “I think it’s doable because we’re basically 70 best friends, so knowing you’re all in it together makes it less of a personal sacrifice from your studies and more an opportunity to be with people you want to spend your time with.”

The Glee Club’s Christmas season will culminate with three concerts in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Saturday, and all proceeds will go to the Center for the Homeless and the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Eardley said.

“The concerts take up a lot of time on Saturday, but we don’t see it as giving up our Saturdays because the concert proceeds go to a good cause,” Eardley said. “It takes prioritizing and time management skills, but it’s worth it.”

Nieman said the concerts will feature a wide variety of Christmas songs, including traditional tunes like “Sleigh Ride” and “Jingle Bells.” However, the highlight of the concert program for many Glee Club members is singing a number of nontraditional carols.

“We are singing calypso and Latin American carols, but one of our favorites is an African song that includes minimal choreography,” Nieman said.

In addition to participating in all of Glee Club’s performances during the year, the 12 members of The Undertones, Notre Dame’s all-male a cappella group, will perform their biggest concert of the year Friday night.

Nieman, a member of both groups, said The Undertones have been giving small concerts in female dorms to promote the main concert, which will feature mostly pop music arranged by members of the group.

These concerts also prepare the group for its winter break trip to Vail and Denver, Colo., for a week of singing and skiing.

Despite the Glee Club’s packed schedule, both Nieman and Eardley said they believe the members of the group enjoy the spirit of the Christmas season more than any other time of year, especially because they spend so much time with each other.

“Christmas is definitely the best season, and I think most of the guys would agree,” Nieman said. “We work hard to learn all the music, but it’s a blast because we have a good time as ‘brothers in song,’ as we like to call ourselves.

The Glee Club’s Christmas concerts will take place at 2:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, and tickets are available the Center or at performingarts.nd.edu.