By Rod Bastanmehr
As the lights dim, and audience members settle into their seats Feb. 1 and 2, attendees of Acquire’s “Disneymania” may find themselves overcome by a range of emotions. There is sure to be the obligatory shock and awe at the sheer magnitude of the voices coming from onstage. It’s almost certain that there will be chills as notes beyond average control are hit. But what the 20-plus members of the UC Santa Cruz-based a cappella group are hoping for is something entirely different: nostalgia.
“There’s going to be a lot of ‘aaaaw’-ing’ when audience members recognize their favorite Disney song,” said Leesa Durst, a UCSC first-year and member of Acquire. “These are the songs so many of us grew up with and know all the lyrics to simply because we’ve watched those Disney movies so many times.”
The familiar Congo drum-line and African calls that lead to The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” — the first song of the night — tend to induce a vast feeling of nostalgia. And as the gospel hum of Hercules draws near, memories of our generation will find a way to make us remember a simpler time, when things were much less complicated.
“For me to be able to take a night and just relive these songs I used to sing with friends will be like a break from reality,” said Diane Kronska, a first-year communications major. “[Things] can get so complicated in college, and there is something about Disney that just takes me back to times when things were — for lack of a better term — better.”
For Acquire, memories of yesteryear will play a pivotal role in their performance, but there is more to their act than simply unearthing childhood memories. The group’s practice regimen is no child’s play: Getting together more than twice a week to learn, arrange, and perform music often leads to rather daunting pressure. But as Durst, who serves as one of the group’s altos, puts it, being surrounded by passionate musical talent is worth the workload.
“I love how everyone in the group is ridiculously obsessed with music. So when you put us all together, it’s like all our dorky music dreams come true,” she said, citing an example from a recent afterparty. “After a performance earlier this year, we had a little dance party that ended up with everybody singing different harmonies and beats to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ If I were to do that at any other college party, it just wouldn’t be as fun.”
Durst brings up the very point that gives Acquire its planned Disney-themed performance weight. At an age when the awkward limbo between adulthood and childishness has been reached, when exactly do we get a break from the daunting reality of the “real world?” Second-year Steffany Rodas believes that Acquire’s songs serve as time capsules suspended in childhood, and offer college students a little reprieve.
“We are at such a strange place in our lives. We have the stress of having to figure our [life] out, but we have to balance it with living up the present,” she said. “To have music and the arts remind us to slow down and not take things so seriously is nice — it makes you really check yourself in the bigger scheme of things.”
The true test of Acquire’s ability to guide us down familiar paths long since visited will be put to the test Feb. 1 through 2 at the Cowell dining hall. According to Durst, one overarching theme should be expected: “Basically Acquire has the theme of awesome.”
Wise words — evocative of a time where the term awesome was more than descriptive enough.
_For more information about Acquire and future shows, visit acquiremusic.org._