When it comes to barbershop-style singing, one big factor sets the women of the Central Coast Celebration Chorus apart from their male counterparts.
“We have the razzle-dazzle. We can out-sequin them any day,” Celebration Chorus director Dani Avalos Prigge said.
The 28-member chorus presents its annual summer show, “Pink Champagne,” this Saturday at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo Grande. A nostalgic revue featuring the music of the 1950s and ’60s, the production takes its inspiration from “The Lawrence Welk Show.”
“It’s going to be so much fun,” Prigge said.
Chartered in 2000, the Celebration Chorus is a chapter of Sweet Adelines International, self-described as a “worldwide organization of women singers committed to advancing the musical art form of barbershop harmony through education and performance.”
The group boasts nearly 25,000 English-singing members based in Australia, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and much of the United States.
“I love this organization because it teaches good singing and promotes good friendship,” Prigge said of Sweet Adelines, which encompasses more than 1,200 quartets and 600 choruses.
Like all-male barbershop groups, Sweet Adeline choruses and quartets specialize in four-part barbershop harmony, sung a capella without instrumental accompaniment.
“The goal is to blend in harmony of sound, in matching vowels, in synchronization,” Celebration Chorus member Donna Long explained. “We try to blend as a unit.”
In addition, the singers aim to achieve “ringing chords,” an acoustic effect created by precisely tuned and balanced voices.
“It’s the most challenging music I’ve ever sung,” said Prigge, a Shell Beach resident who’s been performing with Sweet Adelines groups for 35 years.
Competition is a key component of Sweet Adelines International, which holds regional and international contests. (The Celebration Chorus won first place in the small chorus category at 2008’s regional competition and came close to snagging the same prize this year.) The organization also places a strong emphasis on education and vocal instruction, introducing younger singers to the barbershop style via its Young Women in Harmony Program.
The Celebration Chorus rehearses weekly at Judkins Middle School in Pismo Beach.
“Every time we’re in front of our director, it’s like getting voice lessons,” Long said.
In addition to private performances throughout the year, the group performs two annual shows to pay for operating expenses: a holiday show and a summer concert.
Past summer showcases have included a psychedelic tribute to the popular entertainment show “Rowan &Martin’s Laugh In” and a 1930s-themed show titled “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
This year’s theme, “Pink Champagne,” seeks to recapture the glamour and grace of “The Lawrence Welk Show,” the popular musical variety show that aired for roughly three decades.
“There’s a lot of variety this year,” said Prigge, including dancers, a small band and a Lawrence Welk impersonator.
The Celebration Chorus even pays homage to the big band leader’s famous penchant for bubbles with clear plastic globes suspended above the stage. The group nixed real soap bubbles because, Prigge said, “We don’t want to inhale them (and) we don’t want to slip on them.”
The program features such favorites as “Million Dollar Baby” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” plus a selection of patriotic songs including “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “This is My Country” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Long said she relishes each chance to perform with the Celebration Chorus.
“Singing is good for your health,” the Arroyo Grande woman said, pointing to such benefits as proper posture and breath control. “You don’t see grumpy people who sing.”