Final performance set for March 19
While Tullahoma is known for its exemplary high school band program, another school musical group has ended its competition season with plenty of hardware.
The Tullahoma High School AristoCATS wrapped up their last show choir competition with a second-place finish and another People’s Choice award, giving the group a total of three People’s Choice awards and two first runner-up awards for their 2018-2019 show titled “Welcome to the Freak Show.”
The AristoCATS celebrated people’s differences and the common bonds different people can share through the show theme this year, according to Hannah Putnam, whose daughter is in the group.
“One of the big, popular things, of course, this year was, ‘The Greatest Showman’,” Putnam said, “and we knew that a lot of other show choirs were going to be doing that type of theme just because it was so popular, so he [Director Adam Womack] wanted to do a different take on it and not be doing what all the other show choirs were doing.”
While the term “freak show” can have negative connotations, Putnam was quick to dispel any bullying aspects of the theme.
“It’s ‘freak’ in a good [way],” she said, “not as in making fun of you. We’re all different; we all come from different things. People are from all different walks of life, and they all unite together to do that show.”
The show was choreographed by Samantha Boggs, owner of The Dance Company in Tullahoma. According to THS Senior Clarice Cox, Boggs did an incredible job of combining evocative choreography with the correct piece of music.
“The choreography this year was unique and evoked the excitement of a carnival show,” she said.
The show consists of a well-rounded collection of songs all relating to the theme, such as “Come Look at the Freaks” from the Broadway show “Side Show,” to “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots to “The Show Must Go On” by Queen. No genre of music is spared, as the show combines Broadway classics with pop songs and even Christian rock, courtesy of the band Skillet and their song “Freak Show.”
Cox said this year’s crop of music was her favorite to learn of all her time with the ArisoCATS, though she couldn’t pinpoint one particular song as her ultimate favorite.
“Every piece of music has a different tone and story to tell the audience,” she said. “The music is multi-faceted and shows off the group’s vocal ability very well.”
Each piece helped tell a greater story much like Putnam described, Cox confirmed.
“It opens like a circus performance, but there is a deeper meaning as well,” Cox said. “The true meaning of the show is learning how to embrace all of the little oddities that make us unique. It is also about being comfortable showing your differences to the world.”
Another AristoCATS senior, Mason TeVrucht, said the show is reflective of how the group operates as a whole.
Just like the show theme, the AristoCATS “all come together” from “different walks of life and from different cliques within the high school.”
“But when we walk into the CAT room, we’re a family through and through,” TeVrucht said.
That family atmosphere allows for a closeness the students might not experience otherwise, according to TeVrucht.
“There is never a topic that is too far out in left field,” he said. “Everything and anything is conversed about within the group.”
Each year, the AristoCATS put in long hours learning choreography and lyrics to an intricate show in the hopes of taking their talent to various show choir competitions.
This season saw the AristoCATS head to both Alabama and Indiana for their competitions, including the Xtreme Choir Showdown, where they took home a first-place trophy in 2017.
The group’s first competition of the season took place Saturday, Feb. 2, in Albertville, Alabama, home of the Albertville Diamond Classic.
After dazzling audiences with their greatest show, the AristoCATS brought home their first People’s Choice Award, winning out over all divisions despite not placing.
The second competition took place two weeks later, on Feb. 15. The group returned to Alabama to attend the Jasper Foothills Show Choir Classic in Jasper, Alabama. This competition saw a slightly larger yield for the group, with both a People’s Choice Award and a first runner-up trophy in their division.
Their final competition took place in Lafayette, Indiana, at the Xtreme Choir Showdown. Not only did the AristoCATS take home another first runner-up in their division and their third People’s Choice Award, singer Brayden Boyer also received the Outstanding Performer recognition.
Cox said taking home the People’s Choice Award at each performance shows that no matter if the group places at a competition, they still have a great impact on all those who witness the performance.
“The People’s Choice Award means that no matter how we place compared to other larger groups, we leave a positive and memorable impression,” she said. “It is a great feeling of accomplishment for our group.”
Cox added that the CATS have taken home a People’s Choice Award at every competition the group has been to since she joined.
One last performance
Though their competition season is over, the AristoCATS aren’t through performing just yet. They have one more upcoming performance at the annual Arts Night exhibition on Tuesday, March 19. The event is designed to highlight the arts at every school level, from elementary to high school, and the AristoCATS will perform “Welcome to the Freak Show” one last time before saying goodbye to their season.
For Cox, saying good-bye to the show isn’t the hardest part of her year. Instead, it’s knowing she’ll have to say goodbye to the home she’s found for herself inside the halls of THS.
“The one thing that I will miss most about being a part of AristoCATS is bringing joy to the community with the family that has shaped me into the person that I am today,” she said. “This group has allowed me to find my home at Tullahoma High School, and I am forever thankful to have been able to be a part of the THS Legacy.”
Arts Night will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tullahoma High School on Tuesday, March 19.
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.