A capella group ‘Slaphappy’ sings to benefit Whidbey Children’s Theater

Cameron Gray

They strive to be utterly ridiculous.

That’s what the four young gentlemen of South Whidbey who make up the a cappella group “Slaphappy” say about their stage show.

Matt Bell, Gabe Harshman, Mark Arand and Cameron Gray will sing quartet-style in a benefit for Whidbey Children’s Theater at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 27 and Saturday, June 28 on the Martha Murphy Mainstage.

“We try to have some fun while being really entertaining,” Bell said.

To that end, silly costumes and props are added to the show as are a number of funny bits to keep the audience laughing.

“But we also go for some tight, orchestrated singing,” added Arand.

The group is serious about their vocal abilities and this will be the third year these singers have carved out some significant rehearsal time for the annual last-weekend-in-June event.

The four singers will also invite some of their most talented community friends to contribute to the show with musical accompaniment and some solos and duet singing.

“It’s kind of like a reunion every year of all the WCT alumni,” Bell said.

Bell returned to the island for the summer from Western Washington University where he is studying musical composition. Fellow singer Harshman is back, too, from his first year at Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, Calif.

Arand and Gray just graduated from South Whidbey High School with the class of 2008 and will be off in the fall to continue their study of the performing arts and music; Arand at Whitman College and Gray at the University of British Columbia.

“I look around and think, wow, these are all the people who’ve been a part of this musical community since we were kids,” Bell said.

Slaphappy will perform two sets totaling about 18 songs for the evening. The show will include crowd-pleasers like “What A Wonderful World” and “Kiss the Girl.”

The boys said it all started years ago when three of them were cast in a Whidbey Children’s Theater production of “The Music Man.”

They were thrown together with one more talented friend and told to sing as a quartet. And the rest is history.

Slaphappy went on to win the novice division of the 2006 Barbershop Competition in Anacortes and even made the finals in the national championship of the High School A Cappella competition, but couldn’t go because of a conflict. They were all cast in the South Whidbey High School production of “Grease.”

That was before Gray’s time, they said. This will be his first year performing with Slaphappy and his baritone is a perfect fit.

On a recent morning the group’s voices filled the Bayview Cash Store Front Room where the group was rehearsing.

A small group of onlookers poked their heads in and one person asked, “Who are you?”

“It sounded like a professional barbershop quartet and I thought it was going to be a bunch of older guys,” she said.

They may be fresh out of high school, but these young men have been singing as long as anyone on the South End can remember.

And every year, they sing slaphappily to give back to the community that made them the performers they are today.

Tickets for Slaphappy cost $10 for general seating. Call the WCT box office at 221-2282 for tickets or info.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or pduff at southwhidbeyrecord.com.