Dueling Pianos: soulful sass and tasteful tunes

Jan. 27, 2014

Samantha Morley
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Two white pianos on a blue lit stage, adorned by cowbells, water bottles and a disco ball on top. Soon the pianists assume their positions with their fingers at attention above the keys. The house lights dim and focus shifts towards the stage. The base amps up and the soulful strike of the pianos snaps the concert into action.

Dueling Pianos on Jan. 23 – a comedic sing-along, clap-along, dance-along production – consisted of performers playing the piano while singing. It was a very entertaining, although rather crass, evening for UCCS students, the group dropping numerous F-words throughout the show.

Songs ranged from “Spongebob Squarepants” to the Cheers theme to songs from the band Macklemore.

The evening began slowly with audience apprehension weighing down the mood. Performers Jami McNeill and Gordon Von started with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock N Roll,” then transitioned to Taio Cruzs’ “Dynamite.” But it was Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” that smashed the shyness of the crowd and brought the evening to life.

McNeill, a feisty rocker chick, added the sassy spark to many of the mainstream songs while Von brought more of a soulful jazz flair. Each had their own style of comedy and when flipping through suggestion papers would offer quips like “I’m a black guy, by the way. Don’t give me Miley Cyrus.”

It was Caz Bzdek, however, that brought the perverse comedy into play.

Bzdek slung around curse words like adjectives and nouns and used every chance he could to make anyone blush. Christyne Merritt, senior history major, for instance, was called up to the stage as a harmonica assistant to Bzdek. She was instructed to slide behind Bzdek on his piano seat and hold the harmonica to his mouth. This required her to reach around his body. He also encouraged her to scoot as close to him as she could.

“It was an awkward situation, but it was fun,” said Merritt. Her friend, Cody Eden, senior psychology major, was also pressured up to the stage to be Von’s harmonica assistant and had the same reaction.

At one point, six females were called up to the stage. They were then instructed to turn around and participate in “Colorado Springs’ first booty shaking contest.” Sir Mix-a-lot’s classic “Baby Got Back” began and, after a few apprehensive glances to the other ladies on stage, the women started to get in the groove. Rachel Hunt, sophomore psychology major, and Mariah Walker, junior communication major, were two of the participants.

“It was very fun and liberating,” said Walker.

“It was also very hot up there and a little nerve-wracking, but still very fun,” said Hunt.

The two hour event came to a close with songs like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and ‘N SYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.”

Based on student reactions, the group – and their antics – would most definitely be welcomed back.