The Ghost Lights a cappella prepares to make its mark
With the catchy show tunes of “Glee” springing into the spotlight, it seems odd that not one of Washington University’s many a capella groups has focused on Broadway show music—until now. Formed in the spring of 2009, The Ghost Lights is an a capella group dedicated to singing songs from the theater.
The motto of this new group is, “if there’s a theater involved, we’ll sing it” according to sophomore and founder Cary Simowitz. By “theater” he means home theater, movie theater or live theater—all of which inspire the new group’s repertoire. The group features popular crowd-pleasing theater tunes like “Run Freedom Run” from Urinetown, The Little Shop of Horrors medley, “The Song of Purple Summer” from Spring Awakening and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Simowitz and his co-founders saw a need for an a cappella group that would cater to the schedules of students who also wanted to participate in Performing Arts Department shows. In the spring, Simowitz’s participation in the musical “Ragtime” conflicted with rehearsals for his previous a cappella group. He noticed that other cast members were in a similar dilemma—and it wasn’t long before they banded together to form The Ghost Lights.
Don’t let the name fool you—they will not be wandering campus singing ghostly dirges or only performing on Halloween. The unique name stems from the theater term “ghost light,” a light left on in the theater overnight. Some say it’s to keep away the “bad spirits” of forsaken performers. The more practical explanation, however, is that it gives the late-working stagehands a guiding light so they can find their way out of the theater.
Simowitz feels that their name symbolizes dedication to singing and performing, as the ghost light helps the late-night, hardworking theater members who leave at the very end of the night.
Forming The Ghost Lights was not an easy process. Though they are an official student group, they were not accepted into Wash. U.’s governing a capella committee, the A Cappella Auditions Council (ACAC). According to Simowitz, the group was initially rejected because the ACAC wanted to ensure the group would stay stable over their first year in existence and continue to grow. The group plans to reapply next year.
Currently, The Ghost Lights has 15 members. They recently sang at Nobel Laureate Douglass North’s birthday celebration, but their first official Wash. U. performance will be a joint concert with other a capella groups at Ursa’s Dec. 10 at 10 p.m. Until then, be on the lookout for impromptu performances around campus, something that the budding, passionate group is known for.
Editor’s note: Cary Simowitz is a Student Life copy editor.