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Monday, April 15, 2013

A Blast From My Musical Past OR Why You Should Watch Off Pitch on VH1

So Easter dinner at my house pretty much went like this:

Mom: You know that reality TV show that Rob is on is starting soon.

Me: I know.  We've been talking about this for almost a year now.

Ian: VH1 has, like, a four minute trailer up on its website.

Me: Well, put it up on the TV.

(Four minutes of singing/dancing/crying/drama fills the screen)

Me (laughing hysterically): Oh man!  Where was I when these auditions took place?  I wasn't even living in Wisconsin at the time but I totally would have driven up here!  I mean, surely VH1 would LOVE the added drama of having one of Rob's past students in the group!  Dude, I wonder when the auditions for Season Two are? AHAHAHAHA!  I am SO going!

And scene.

Lemme 'splain a bit for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about.

All my life (yes really, all my life- I started in about 4th grade) I've been obsessed with Show Choir.  My local high school had a really good group and I would always participate in their Show Choir camps for kids.  Even on the years when they didn't have the camps, my mother would buy us tickets and we'd go eat Spaghetti in the high school cafeteria and then watch the annual MHS Pops-n-Pasta concert.  It was magical.  There were concert choirs, women's choirs, jazz choirs and of course, the Rhythm Express SHOW CHOIR.  The costumes! The props!  The singing! The glitter!  I would have given my left arm at the age of ten to be up on that stage.

A huge part of why our school's group was so good had to do with the choreographer, Rob Jones.  Well that, and all of us having our music memorized before Rob showed up each spring.  At any rate, Rob was an MHS graduate who worked for Disney for years as a singer/dancer/actor.  And every year, he would drag himself back to the (what I'm sure for him was a) hellhole that is Mendota, Illinois in order to choreograph our Show Choir show.

Fast forward five years and you have me in one of my first auditions.  "Relax," I tell myself.  "You've been doing this for a while.  It's the same as at the camps.  Plus, you made the dance squad!  Surely ADA camp and all of those practices will pay off in super dance skills!"  (HAHAHAHA! Yeah right! Laughs future me.)  But there's Rob sitting right next to Mrs. Schrock, the choir director.  He's so awesome!  And a bit scary.  But he's a real performer!  And also the most beautiful gay man I've ever met...

Rob as I knew him when I was in high school
Just dance and sing, Natalie.

And I did.  I made the group as a Freshman which was quite the feat for a tiny little soprano.  I was so excited!!!!  I spent the spring of each year in high school singing and dancing like mad and loving every drama filled, Rob-screaming minute of it.  These are still some of my best high school memories with friends to this day.  

I looked up to Rob.  I wanted to BE Rob.  I wanted to finish college and run off and sing and dance on a cruise ship like Rob had done.  I wanted to go and work at Disney (but only if I could be a mermaid).  At one point, Rob even let me house/dog sit for him.  Now god bless Rob, but what he was thinking letting teenage me (who, as the saying goes, didn't know her ass from a hole in the ground) take care of his lovely apartment filled with EXPENSIVE antiques and tiny dogs???  Oh Rob.

Fast forward to now.  Mr. Robert Jones is going to be staring in a new reality show on VH1 called Off Pitch.  The show is all about he and his partner and the fabulous adult show choir that they direct in LaCrosse, Wisconsin called the Grand River Singers.  I am going to assume that VH1 thought it would be awesome to make a "real life" version of Glee and so they approached Rob and Tim about Off Pitch.  I cannot wait to see this. There will be a blog post analyzing each episode.  The drama, the jazz hands, the still familiar choreography, the sequins...

Speaking of sequins, before we got new costumes my junior year of high school, we were wearing these lovely numbers:

Sorry guys, this was the best photo I could find... can you find me?

Yes.  Those are super flowy skirts that fly out wide when you twirl (there were matching royal blue bloomers to go with).  And yes, those are silver beaded shooting star patches on our shoulders.  And YES.  Those are horrible, awful, PAINFUL elastic sequin cuffs that all of the girls had to wear that made your forearms look like you'd gotten a really bad sunburn after you removed them.  Awesome.

And while we're talking about awesomely awful costumes, let us not forget the black satin 80s concert dresses that all women in any band or choir at MHS had to wear:

Too bad those dresses are so can't even see how cute we are!


I don't know when MHS acquired those sad satin nightmares, but if they are still in use, that's got to be some form of torture.  Gross.  I am, however, very proud to know all of the ladies in that photo- two of whom went on to work at Disney professionally :)

Ok. Ok.  So why in God's name should you care about some gay guy I knew and the fact that he's on TV?  It will be drama of the highest order.  There will be dancing and singing.  There will be fighting and screaming.  And Rob will be doing what he does best: making people CRY.  It will be PERFECT for drinking games of any and all kinds.  Seriously guys, this is going to be one awesome hot mess of a show!

Off Pitch premieres Wednesday, April 17th at 10/9c on VH1 (though I believe they have the first episode online here ).


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