By Trisha Stachowski
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The annual Fireside music variety show hosted by the sisters of Saint Mary’s University’s music sorority Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) put on three crowd-pleasing performances on Feb. 10 and 11 for the SMU community.
Emcees John Fitzpatrick and Niki Ciulla began the night by welcoming the audience and promising to keep the corny jokes to a minimum. Balloon animals, jokes from the audience and dressing as shrubbery were still fair game throughout the night, however.
Ciulla said, “Fireside was started several years ago by the sisters of SAI, and originally the only performers in the show were sisters.” This eventually changed, when all students were invited to audition for the show.
The first act of the night, performed by Courtney Lee and Bill Van Wagner, instantly electrified the crowd with their cover of The Civil Wars’ “Barton Hollow.”
The coffee-house atmosphere continued with Sam Schepers and Joe Richards performing an acoustic version of Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”
Ciulla said, “Blue Angel and Gaslight both bolster a more ‘rock show’ or ‘concert’ type of vibe, and so the decision to make a ‘coffee-house’ style show seems appropriate to reach different types of performers and audience members.”
Katie Keck, Jessica Ingvalson and Matt Polum won over the crowd with smooth vocals and perfect harmony while performing Kina Grannis’s “Heart and Mind.” The first of two sets closed with Keotta House and Josh Rumppe’s heartfelt performance of Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t.” Then it was time for the traditional intermission pie break.
The second set began with an interesting “bromance” between Tyler Kircher and Mike Ostman, along with pianist Megan Hellmann, performing “Man or Muppet” from the film The Muppets. Ciulla joined her SAI sisters and roommates Jamie Jones and Katie Keck, along with Augustine Esterhammer-Fic, to harmonize to Mountain Man’s “Animal Tracks.” Cuilla also joined Andy Bauer, Paul Schmitt, Alex Bush, Mitch Lawler, Kalinn Bangasser, Ethan Thompson and Tyler Ringeisen, to get the crowd up and dancing for the last act of the night, performing Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home” to finish the show.
Although Fireside included wonderful performances and seamless transitions from one act to another, the show is only possible each year because of all the hard work leading up to the event.
SAI sister and Fireside performer Katie Keck said, “We start the planning process in the fall and begin to work out the basic details such as dates and times, and then we move on to fundraising through advertisements, decorations and more.”