Garneau singers in show choir nationals

Kristin Eliason, Toronto Observer
Jean Batin (standing) rehearses with other members of the Marc Garneau Collegiate show choir, D-Verses. (KRISTIN ELIASON/TORONTO OBSERVER) (Competition-bound)

Eighteen people are gathered together in a second-floor room at Marc Garneau Collegiate on Overlea Boulevard in East York.

The room is nothing glamorous. It has grey carpeting and the walls are stark. But the sparks of enthusiasm coming from each of the students within it light up the entire room.

The students are members of the D-Verses, Marc Garneau’s show choir, and have been rehearsing for an important event in their lives.

Tomorrow, April 20, they will be participating in the Show Choir Canada competition.

Held at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (190 Princes’ Blvd.), the contest will host 12 high schools from all across Canada. Only the top six will go on to the finals, which will be held on Sunday at the same venue.

Yang Chen, student member and director of the club, has high hopes that the D-Verses will make it to the finals.

“We’ve always been trying to get to the finals because we get to perform again on Sunday,” Chen said. “So I think that’s our ultimate goal.”

The choir did not make it to the final last year, but members are confident that this year will be different.

“I believe the people this year are a lot more committed,” said Jenny Wu, 18.

Most members of the group have been with the D-Verses since the beginning of this school year, if not before.

But Chen says the group did not really find its groove until after the winter semester when it decided to change the theme of the show.

Now, the storyline builds off of the ethnic diversity of the group.

“(The plot is) two secret lovers from disapproving groups must find a way to overcome their differences and unite as one,” Chen said. “We renamed our choir this year to D-Verses to represent the diversity of our school.”

Marc Garneau has a lot of immigrants from all over the world, particularly the Middle East and Asia.

“Our music and storyline this year was in part based off of that, to really make it a Marc Garneau show,” Chen said.

The set-list, a lot of which the students have arranged and choreographed themselves, includes pop, rock, Broadway music and even a song from the soundtrack to Slumdog Millionaire.

Some of the singers’ vocals are stunning, while others have a passion for dance.

While it has been a hard year for the students, with the teachers’ strike taking away a lot of support for the preparation of the show, Manal Rahim, the current president and one of the founders of the choir, thinks the D-Verses’ efforts throughout the year will pay off.

“We have a great storyline, amazing vocals and we’ve worked insanely hard through this whole process,” she said. “I think our chances are pretty good to get into finals.”