Members of UCF a cappella group Voicebox will belt it out on a Broadway stage Saturday while vying for victory in the finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in New York City. Voicebox is the the first UCF group to make it this far in the ICCA.
To win the competition, which was dramatized in the film Pitch Perfect, Voicebox’s set must resonate more with the judges than the rest of the top 10 groups in the country and Europe, including the University of Oregon’s Divisi, the basis for the movie’s Barden Bellas.
“The biggest deal about this is like, we’re competing against the group that inspired Pitch Perfect, and that’s the thing that really puts it into perspective,” said Morganne Evans, a senior interdisciplinary studies major and performance director of Voicebox.
Senior elementary education major Zach Anderson has been a member of Voicebox since its inception two years ago. He said that though many UCF a cappella groups participate in competitions, Voicebox was founded with the intent to compete. Making it to the top this fast in the a cappella world is a huge deal, he said.
“We had all done a cappella before, but we had never started a group before, so we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Anderson said. “We’re so happy that after two years, all the dreams that we had have been recognized now.”
The road to the finals started in February when Voicebox placed second in the regional quarterfinals, with fellow UCF a cappella group Gemini Blvd. taking first. Both groups moved on to the South semifinals April 2 in North Carolina, where Gemini Blvd. placed second and Voicebox clinched first, moving on to the last leg of competition. It beat about 50 teams to get to this point.
“This is the first year that any UCF group placed in semifinals, and this year we got first and second, so it’s kind of a UCF sweep,” Anderson said. “Honestly, it’s crazy. We were not expecting to win at semifinals at all. We didn’t go in like thinking anything of it. We just had a lot of fun.”
After rehearsing for two to four hours four days a week since January, the group is enjoying exploring New York City before the final competition.
“The best part about it for me, because I’m a theater minor is, like, we’re walking around looking at all the Broadway shows, and in two days, we’re performing on Broadway,” Evans said. “We’re going to be exactly where we’re fawning over all of these Broadway stars right now.”
With just one month to raise the funds to make the trip, Voicebox received support from friends, family and fans through a GoFundMe page. It is currently $400 shy of its $7,000 goal. Evans said she was grateful for the community’s generosity, including a $1,000 donation just a few days ago.
“It’s so cool to see everyone just rallying behind us and sending us to New York,” Anderson said.
But with the competition falling in the middle of finals week, the trip won’t be all singing and sightseeing for the group.
“Finals before finals. It’s super stressful. Some of us have to take our finals online while we’re here in New York,” said Michael Basco, a sophomore human communication major.
Basco said he learned about Voicebox through a post in the Class of 2018 Facebook group seeking auditions for spring 2015.
“I auditioned, and ever since then I’ve just been surrounded by a brand new family. I’ve created so many awesome friendships,” he said. “For me, it’s really about family, honestly.”
Anderson said he couldn’t imagine a better group of people with whom he could share this experience.
“Regardless of what happens, we worked really hard on our set, and as long as we do what we know what we can do, as long as we do our best, I think we’re going to be happy with whatever we get,” he said.
The 2016 ICCA finals are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Beacon Theatre. Voicbox’s set will include “Lightning” by Little Mix and Panic at the Disco’s “This is Gospel” and “Victorious.” Visit Voicebox’s Facebook page for more information.
Ciara Varone is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.