Voca People bring theater, a cappella music to town

Along with its offbeat performance approach as “musical aliens,” the Voca People ensemble is also known for interacting with audience members during performances. (Courtesy of Voca People)

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:08 a.m.

Gainesville’s getting a new set of visitors tonight at 7:30.


Voca People

What: A cappella ensemble of eight “musical aliens” performs pop hits with beat-box accompaniment
When: 7:30 tonight
Where: Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road
Tickets: $20-$35, $10 for UF students
Info: 392-2787, Ticketmaster.com

Parading through the United States on an inaugural tour of the Americas, the Voca People will stop by the Phillips Center for a night of songs and theatrical performance as they try to learn about humanity.

Voca People is an a cappella group created in 2009 by Israeli actor Lior Kalfo. The group, as Kalfo’s storyline goes, stems from the planet Voca, where music reigns as the main form of conversation and energy. They’ve crashed onto Earth, where they now rely on human interaction to spur songs to give them the energy they need to get home.

According to Cindy Sibilsky, executive producer and marketing director for the Americas, watching Voca People is like watching a theatrical production. Its eight members — six who sing and two who beat box — show the audience the emotions they have seen in humans since landing on the planet. Through gestures and song selections, the members experience feelings of jealousy, confusion and wonder.

“Throughout the performance, you’ll notice that they act the way they see society act,” Sibilsky says.

Dialogue is minimal, Sibilsky says, and only spoken in Vocish — the a cappella group’s native tongue. Although there is no translation, the audience can identify conversations’ context through body language and song choice.

The show highlights 70 songs, ranging from Mozart to Madonna, Adele to Lady Gaga, Sibilsky says. The musical variety, while giving all audience members lyrics and movements they recognize, also shows the audience how songs of different genres link together to unify groups of people, Sibilsky says. In linking various tastes, Voca People’s performance reflects a greater truth about society, she says.

“Even though the audience won’t understand the made-up language,” she says, “they will see how each performer reacts to a piece of news and identifies with that emotion. Voca People’s performance shows us that we don’t need to look alike or sound alike to relate to someone.”

The a cappella group appealed to Michael Blachly, director of University of Florida Performing Arts, which includes the Phillips Center, because of UF’s success with its own a cappella groups, like No Southern Accent and the Sedoctaves. The group’s fusion of theater and song convinced Blachly to book the show.

“One of the interesting things I get to do in my profession is seek out groups that present a unique format,” Blachly says. “This group uses theater and song to tell a story, and I hope people understand that the stories songs tell connect us. They’re a bridge that brings people together.”

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