Music

Adding a New Element

UWEC a capella group writes its own origin story musical

Nikki Lanzer, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

ACA-SCUSE ME? UW-Eau Claire’s all-male a cappella group, Fifth Element, rehearses for an upcoming performance of Fifth Element: The Musical.
ACA-SCUSE ME? UW-Eau Claire’s all-male a cappella group, Fifth Element, rehearses for an upcoming performance of Fifth Element: The Musical.

Stretch out those vocal chords and get ready to sing. The members of UW-Eau Claire’s all-male a cappella group, Fifth Element, will be taking a break from the concert scene to test their talents on the musical stage. This spring, the five-man ensemble is taking its vocal expertise to the next level in the upcoming performance of Fifth Element: The Musical. Telling the story of how the group found its start and the journey it took to arrive where it is today, the production puts the cherished UWEC singers in a whole new spotlight. The show will take place Friday, April 29, at 7:30pm in UW-Eau Claire’s Riverside Theatre in Haas Fine Arts Center.

“The musical is all a cappella so the singers are also the pit band. It’s also very fast-paced – I like to think of it as a fun marriage of a traditional jukebox musical and an a cappella concert.” – Seth Hale, Fifth Element

Music is often a common factor when it comes to UW-Eau Claire’s longest-standing traditions. But with an abundance of bands, choirs, and talented musicians at the university, it can be difficult for one ensemble to distinguish itself from another. So when Fifth Element president Seth Hale came up with the idea to produce a musical for his crew, he knew it could be the perfect opportunity for their group to stand out from the rest. 

“We were getting bored of our normal concert format,” Hale explained. “I’ve seen us getting into a pattern with our structure, and I wanted something new.”

With his background in theater, Hale already had the skills and know-how when it came to putting together the components of a successful musical production. But even with the necessary expertise, Hale admits that the show has been a far greater undertaking than any of their previous concerts.

“This production has a ton of elements that we’ve never had to do before,” Hale explained. “Costumes, lights, sound cues, blocking, acting, and choreography.”

While most people have attended at least one musical or choir performance in their lives, Hale says that audiences can expect this performance to be a completely unique experience.

“The musical is all a cappella so the singers are also the pit band,” Hale explained. “It’s also very fast paced – I like to think of it as a fun marriage of a traditional jukebox musical and an a cappella concert.”

While the five-man group created the musical with its campus community in mind, they believe the show will generate a widespread appeal.

“Even if it is your first time seeing Fifth Element,” Hale said, “the humor and atmosphere will make you feel like you’ve been with us from the start.”

When the curtain finally rises on opening night, Fifth Element will be there to shake up the concert world. And as the lights go out for their final show, the only thing on these five musicians’ minds will be plans for their next colossal undertaking.

“I hope that this production opens a gateway to more collaboration between a cappella groups and other arts groups on campus,” Hale said. “But I would also love for it to become a launching point to other big risky moves.”

For more information about Fifth Element: The Musical or to purchase tickets, please call 715-836-INFO (4636).

Journey Ahead

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