The Cat's Pajamas showcases local talent

A cappella groups perform in Allendale

By Marissa LaPorte | 9/20/15 10:27pm

GVL / Kevin Sielaff Grand Valley's a Midnight Snack opens for the Cat's Pajamas Sept 18.
by Kevin Sielaff and Kevin Sielaff / The Lanthorn

A diverse audience of all ages tapped their toes and swayed to the beat at a concert on Friday night - a concert without any instruments. With nothing but the power of their voices, three vocal groups took the stage at Allendale High School’s Ceglarek Fine Arts Center on the evening of Sept. 18.

Two local vocal groups, Midnight Snack and Varsity Voices, opened for a professional a cappella group, called The Cat’s Pajamas. The professional group has performed on shows such as “America’s Got Talent” and “The Sing Off.”

Grand Valley State University’s own all-female a cappella group, Midnight Snack, performed songs such as “Some Nights,” “Blank Space” and “Payphone” as a part of the opening act. One of Zeeland High School’s vocal groups, Varsity Voices, performed between Midnight Snack’s songs, adding to the energy of the opening performance and preparing the audience for The Cat’s Pajamas to come on.

Originally not on the schedule for The Cat’s Pajama’s high school tour, it wasn’t until August that the planning for the Allendale performance began. Jim Crawley was able to contact The Cat’s Pajamas at just the right moment.

Crawley, a volunteer with the Allendale High School Fine Arts Center and the coordinator of the concert, was able to bring The Cat’s Pajamas to Allendale and provide two local groups the opportunity to open for them.

“I try to bring in groups that involve local groups in some way,” Crawley said. “Whether it be as an opener, or the groups coming in and doing a workshop, or just some way that we can reach out to people. Not just the audience, but other groups too.”

The Cat’s Pajamas ran a workshop open to vocalists just hours before their performance to offer advice to fellow performers including local high school and college students. Donovan Germain, the high tenor and mouth guitar of The Cat’s Pajama’s, said that the group puts on these workshops whenever they go on high school or college tours.

“We work with choirs and music groups to show them what being a professional group is like,” Germain said.

Rachel Xydis, Midnight Snack’s music director, said that Midnight Snack was thrilled to have the opportunity to open for such an established group.

“We’re really excited to meet a professional a cappella group and see how they work with each other and how they rehearse and how they learn their music,” Xydis said.

The short notice about the performance put some pressure on Midnight Snack, Xydis said. When they heard about the performance, members were just returning to GVSU and holding auditions as well as rehearsing for the show.

“This is definitely a learning experience for us,” Xydis said. “We’ve never had a performance on such short notice before.”

This concert was based on camaraderie rather than competition, Crawley said. The high school, college and professional-level groups learned from each other, rather than trying to outdo one another.

“It gets (the local groups) some more exposure and a chance to perform,” Crawley said.

Skinner, the bass-beat of The Cat's Pajamas, announced during the concert that the group performs music from different styles, genres and decades. The group performed “Let It Go." from the Disney film "Frozen."

“We try to do music that adults and kids will enjoy,” Germain said.

Upcoming performances put on by Allendale High’s Fine Arts Center include a performance by No Outlets, an improvisation group from Grand Rapids, on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. On Oct. 30 a hypnotist from Ontario will be putting on a show at 7 p.m.

Tickets for performances at the Fine Arts Center range from $5 to $10 and the proceeds are used for advertising costs and to fund the Fine Arts Center. For more information visit the CFAC’s website at

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