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2023 Mens Choirs: Part One

Mens choirs may get the most mileage out of any category of groups in show choir. They are often one of the ‘must-see’ shows of a competition, despite rarely making finals or being in serious contention to have one of the best shows of the day. They aren’t quite rare enough to be unicorns but are much less numerous than womens groups. This is the first of a three-part series that chronicles all mens choirs that competed in 2023.


Andover “Back to Bass-ics” – Founded in 2015 by Mark Mercer, 2023 was a transition year for Back to Bass-ics and the Andover program as a whole. Lauren Peithmann and Carly Dove took over director duties, replacing Timothy Chavez. Back to Bass-ics did return longtime choreographer Beth Kennedy, who has worked with the group since its founding, and Tyler Moore, who started working with the group last season. After kicking off their season at the noncompetitve Baystate Festival in November, Back to Bass-ics competed in four events across Massachusetts in 2023. It scored silver medals in three of those four events, and notched a pair of third-place division finishes at Shepherd Hill and Tantasqua.


Atlee “Debonair” – Debonair is one of the newest mens groups in the country, debuting in late 2022. Under the direction of longtime Atlee leader Natan Berenshteyn, Debonair competed twice in 2023, both locally around the Richmond area. It placed third in an open single-gender division and grabbed best vocals at Hanover, and then one week later at Powhatan, faced off against the same two groups and won the division. Such is the nature of show choir, where a different week and a different panel can produce completely inverted results.


Hamilton “CrescenDudes” – Director Christina Fox brought CrescenDudes into existence before the 2019 season, where it took home two division titles. After a pause for the COVID-19 pandemic, the group returned for a single appearance at Martinsburg in April 2022. CrescenDudes competed at three of Hamilton’s five stops in 2023, picking up choreography from Kelvin and Alvin Mantley, who have been with the group since its inception, as well as Katelyn Quinn and Noah Warner, who have worked with other Hamilton choirs in the past. After being the only mens choir at Clover Hill, CrescenDudes faced off against womens choirs at Ross and Marysville and did not secure an awards placement at either competition.

Marion Harding “Singers Xtreme” – Singers Xtreme, like Back to Bass-ics, is another mens group founded for the 2015 season. Unlike Back to Bass-ics, it is the rare mens choir from a school that does not have a competitive womens show choir. Singers Xtreme has had the same leadership team throughout its history, with Jami and Dustin Rawlins direction the group and Shane Coe serving as choreographer. In 2023, Xtreme competed six times. It made finals twice, coming in sixth overall at Capitol and fifth overall at Olentangy. It also won the single-gender division at Capitol, its only division win of the season. Singers was second in division at Olentangy, Columbus East and Grove City, third place in division at Beavercreek, and did not place (like CrescenDudes) at Marysville.


Brownsburg “Dawg Pound” – Dawg Pound has carved a niche by competing once a year since 2016. Brownsburg director Chad Strasser has been at the helm of operations since the beginning. Sometimes that appearance has been at Pike, sometimes it has been at Ben Davis, and this year, the appearance came at Avon. Instead of competing in a single-gender division, Dawg Pound competed in the prep division. It came in third of five choirs, losing to two Franklin Central choirs but beating groups from Decatur Central and Ben Davis.

Noblesville “MaleTonez” – When John Neubauer came to Noblesville in 2016, he took over a program that didn’t have a mens choir, unlike his previous two stops at Mundelein and Danville. MaleTonez first took the competition stage in 2019. After appearing once in 2019, it competed three times in 2020 before the pandemic forced a cut back to one in 2021. After going back up to three in 2022, MaleTonez again only competed once in 2023. With Neubauer’s direction and choreography by himself and Eric Hayes, it competed in the large single-gender division at Decatur Central, placing fifth.

North Central “Varsity Singers” – Varsity Singers is one of the longer-tenured mens groups, as records of it competing go back to 2004. Michael Raunick has been at the helm of the group since 2015, and Joe Sato stepped in as choreographer this year. Similar to Dawg Pound, Varsity Singers usually competes once a year. Historically, it has been at a competition that is very close to North Central, such as Lawrence Central or Decatur Central. This year, Varsity competed at Lawrence Central in a division that included prep groups and top groups from some smaller schools. It placed third of five groups in the division.


Danville “Executives” – After Mark Mercer departed Andover, he came to Danville and started a mens group. Executives has been around ever since, although it is on its second director and third choreographer. Jeff Thomas took over directing the group after one year, and after some time with Dominic Matas and then Jarad Voss, Kyle Aiden stepped in as choreographer for 2023. This year, Executives competed five times across three different states. Highlights included a fourth-place division finish at Herscher, a third-place finish at Mt. Zion and a second-place finish in small single-gender at Lafayette Jefferson.

Mt. Zion “You’ve Got Male” – Originally a creation by Connie Mulligan for the 2017 season, You’ve Got Male made finals in its second year of existence and compiled a solid record against tough competition in 2019. The group was dissolved in favor of a mixed prep group, Premiere, before 2020. You’ve Got Male was brought back for 2022, and it captured the mens division title at FAME Orlando that year. In 2023, Erik Taylor took over as director while Sam Mulligan was retained as choreographer. It emerged from a loaded prep division at Troy Buchanan to make finals, claimed a division win at Franklin Community and finished second in small group finals at Danville. Across five events in which it had competition, You’ve Got Male never finished lower than third.

Check back in soon for part two of the series on mens groups!

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