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Findlay First Edition Show Choir

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Findlay First Edition Show Choir

Charles Kevin Manley
Director, Findlay First Edition
Incumbent
Assumed office
July 10, 2005 (2005-07-10)
Preceded by J.D. Smith
Personal details
Born Charles Kevin Manley
(1969-11-27) November 27, 1969 (age 44)
Xenia, Ohio
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Kirsten Osbun Manley
Children None
Residence Ada, Ohio
Alma mater Bowling Green State University
Profession Director, Choral Activities
Choral Director
Findlay High School
Religion Christian
Awards Findlay Rotary Club Teacher of the year (2003)
Findlay High School Trojan of the Year (2009)
Website [1]

Findlay First Edition, also known as FFE, is an award winning show choir. Currently, First Edition is entering their 30th season as a group. An extra curricular activity at Findlay High School, located in Findlay, Ohio, this ensemble is a selected group of singers/dancers, instrumentalists, and crew. Typically the group blocks about 40 singers; however, the group has been expanding in recent years to almost 50 individuals.[1]


The group is directed by Kevin Manley, assisted by Daniel Wilson, with choreography provided by Andy Haines.[2]

The show choir continues to thrive and continue to entertain their audiences with the performances throughout the local area, as well as competing in regional and national competitions.

History

Early Years

Early Years: Started in the fall of 1984, by J.D Smith, FFE was originally known as "Findlay Show Choir" and later changed to Findlay First Edition. The first group only had 24 singers and dancers. They were accompanied by a pianist, bass, and drums; as a result, the total was 28 members. Andy Haines, Barb Hennings, and the students in the group all worked together to create choreography for the songs.[3]


In the spring of the inaugural year, the group traveled to a non-adjudicated festival and were hesitant on how they would perform compared to the other groups. They were better than all of the other groups there. A month later, First Edition traveled to Washington D.C. to perform at the Capitol Building for Congressman Mike Oxley's spring conference.

Two years later, in 1986, First Edition was born and the group competed in their first national competition: Showstoppers.[4] While they did not place, the group attitude and moral was high. They were dedicated and wanted to achieve the ability to compete on a national level. Their first grand championship came a few weeks later at the Ohio Northern University Festival.[5]

The next few years were development years for the ensemble. They continued to compete and placed in some, but didn't in others. However, during this time, what is now known as the 'Boingers' came into existence. The traditional rhythm section was expanded with horns. Greg Ruffer, a student teacher in the Findlay City School's Music Department was interested in working with the group. Hired next year by the school district as the band director for a middle school, he became the first official director of the backup band for First Edition.[6]

On The Rise

A foreign exchange student, Claus Deglmann, was an avid reader of the comic strip 'Bloom County'. In the comic strip, there was a fictional heavy metal rock band called 'Billy and the Boingers. Deglmann had the idea to call the backup band 'Ruffer and the Boingers'. Eventually, the name was shorted to just, The Boingers.[7]

The next year (1989) was a turning point for the history of First Edition. In the fall they competed in the Ada Music Feast and came away with first place [8] ! This was the first year that the group tap danced during a number in the show. This tradition was upheld until 2011 where they took a brief hiatus (due to an attempt at reinvention), before tapping again in 2012. In February, the group went on to compete in the piqua competition and earned 'Grand Champion'. Next, they competed again in the Ohio Northern University Festival and earned 'Grand Champion'. Just a few weeks leader, the group participated in the American Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee, and also earned 'Grand Champion', an upset over an established group Clinton Attaché. Being the grand champion, they were granted the opportunity to perform on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

Throughout the next ten years, First Edition continued on the path to becoming one of the best show choirs in the mid-west area. The group performed four times at the Ohio Music Education Association's Convention, known for their distinctive style of performing, and the Boingers became an ensemble of pride known for their energizing (an adjetive which would appear in their group biography) and majestic sound.

Over the years, the group raised funding to get fully sequined dresses, new performance platforms and mirrors in the choir room to assist in rehearsal. Students came up with ideas to raise money for these necessities. One of the leaders of the crusade was Gavin Creel.[9]

During the 1995 season, FFE earned its first Grand Championship at Bishop Luers, the longest running show choir competition in the United States. First Edition was the first Ohio group to obtain this honor, and is the only group to have won the competition nine times as of 2012.[10] Rounding out the decade, FFE won grand championships at Dekalb, Mt. Zion, and many other are competitions. First Edition, was the show choir to beat. The awards and grand championships has accumulated, and the tradition of making finals in all competitions had began, which continued to be upheld until after J.D. Smith retired and Kevin Manley took over.[11] Michael Springer took over as Director for the Boingers during this era as well replacing Ruffer.[11]

Golden Years

The new century brought new success and continued growth for Findlay First Edition. The group won their third grand champion at Bishop Luers. In 2000, they competed at Showstoppers in St. Louis and earned a Grand Champion. For the second year in a row, they also came away with the grand championship at Fairfield's Crystal Classic. The year 2002 marked the first year they had won a festival back-to-back.

In 2003, FFE was invited to Center Grove for the 'Best of the Midwest' competition. During the day a snow storm hit Indiana and the group was forced to spend the night inside the school. The Red Cross brought in coats and blankets for the school stat were stranded. Later that March, First Edition was selected to be the host choir for the Showstoppers Competition in New York City.

That next year, the group was selected to perform at the American Choral Directors Association convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. They also took home top honors at the national Show Choir Cup in Branson, Missouri. They also took home 'Best Vocals' and 'Best Choreography' to add to their arsenal.[11]

Two thousand five was the final year for director and founder, J.D. Smith. On his final year, the group earned the top spot at Cincinnati Glen Este, Teays Valley, West Virginia, Bishop Luers, and the Showstoppers National in NYC.[11] First Edition was known throughout the show choir circuit: "They don't rebuilt, they just reload".

Taking over for J.D. Smith was Kevin Manley, the new choral director at Findlay High School in 2005, after conducting the Boingers shadowing Smith in the previous year. Smith and Manley reversed roles, as Smith conducted the Boingers before exiting from the group entirely that year.[11] He continued the success by earning a superior rating at the festival.

The following year, Craig VanRenterghem joined the leadership staff as the Assistant Director, with his main responsibility conducting the Boingers. The group won two grand championships in 2006 as well as taking hope Grand Champion at the national Fame New York competition in 2007. This is the most recent national competition FFE has won.[11] For the first time in FFE history, the Boingers won 'Best Backup Band' at every competition they attended under VanRenterghem's direction.[12]

In 2008 the group had a modestly successful year for the singers/dancers. Winning two grand championships and placing third at Show Choir Nationals in Nashville.[13] However, the Boingers for the second year in a row won 'Best Backup Band' at every competition. VanRenterghem ended his career as assistant director to step down and focus on directing Voices In Perfection, the freshman show choir at Findlay High School, although he went 11/11 winning best band awards during his tenure.[13] Dan Wilson took the spot as the Assistant Director and continues to this day.

Attempts at Reinvention

During the years beginning in 2008, FFE's award status has declined considerably. The group has seen a grand slowdown in success after J.D. Smith retired. With Kevin Manley at the helm, the group placed fourth at FAME NYC in 2008.[13] The following year in Nashville, TN, they earned sixth place at Show Choir Nationals.[14] In 2010 at the Finale Show Choir Competition in New York City the group failed to make finals for the first time since 1989.[15] In fact, First Edition had a struggling season in 2010, having one of the worst competition records throughout the entire 29 year history. Starting off the year, the group performed at the Ada Music Feast in Ada, Ohio. The group captured the grand championship, which would turn out to be their only one of the season.[16] In addition, the group received 'Best Vocals' at this festival. Heading into the winter, the group performed at Medina, Huntington North, and at Fairfield. FFE placed third at Fairfield's Crystal Classic before having the catastrophe at Finale Nationals (not making finals).[16]


First Edition performed at four festivals in the 2012 year and won two of them. They started off the year at Ada Music Feast (a local competition) and placed third. Then, they won two grand championships. One at Medina, and Bishop Luers.[17]

At the conclusion of March, First Edition competed in FAME Orlando and received third place; as a result, they were invited to perform in the FAME National Competition in Chicago. They placed fourth.[18] While in Chicago, they received one caption award: Most Classy Show Choir of the competition. This was given by the staff of FAME and not the judges. They got this due to their professional look and how they acted. The staff said they respectable and they were very controlled back stage and always congratulated and wished good luck to the next group.

This halt in grand championships is attributed to their recent attempts at redefining their style; as a result, they have attempted moving away from their classic style into the current area of show choir with a more thematic set, drama, punchy rhythms, and hip hop dancing without success. Noticeable attempts include a more consistent theme within the show and heavier use or props (2009: Viva Las Vegas), more frequent costume changes (2012), and even putting the boys on roller skates during the boys number in 2011. This controversial move led to the group not making finals for the first time since 1989 during their national competition in New York City. Over the last five years, the group has tried many new things that have not been done in the history of the group. Specifically, dresses are being cut shorter (2010, 2013), men dressing more casually (2012–13), incorporating boxes as props to vary leveling (2011, 2012), deciding to not tap (2011), and even the use of back drops (2007, 2010, 2011). Furthermore, many things that director Kevin Manley promised never to do have been tried in an attempt to bring FFE back up to the level that they used to be at. Examples include using fog and smoke machines (2012, 2013), dressing the men in jeans (2013), and also wearing sneakers (2013).

First Edition's last national grand championship was six years ago, which is a group record for most time without a national grand championship.

During the 2012-13 campaign they competed at Ada 'Music Feast' and received second place.[19] The downward spiral has continued on the show choir circuit for 2013; the group placed fourth at the Marysville Showcase.[20] On February 17, FFE placed third again at the Medina Midwest Invitational.[21] FFE competed at Bishop Luers, their last compititon, and won a grand championship.[22] This was their only grand championship of the year. If FFE would not have won at Bishop Luers in 2012-13, it would have been their first year in over two decades without winning a grand champion ship.[23] Under Manley's direction the group has only had the same members from day one of the season, to the end of Cabaret, only one year under his directing tenure. All other years, members have quit the group due to "unknown" reasons.

At their national competition, Show Choir Nationals, FFE received fourth place.[22][24] What used to be national first place finishes every year or two with JD Smith has turned into quite a hiatus under Manley's direction; in fact, he has only one one grand championship at a national level: FAME NYC in his first year at the helm. The table below details the groups national championship record over the groups history, beginning with their first in 1989.

Showchoir experts surmise that Manley knows the group is declining; as a result, he included a non-national grand champion finish (FAME Nationals/Orlando 2012) in the group bio.

FFE Cabaret


Since the first year, FFE ended each of their showchoir season with a Cabaret style show.[25] The first couple of years, Cabaret was held at a church, the First Presbyterian Church in Findlay, Ohio. After two years passed, the show choir moved their Cabaret show to their school’s cafeteria, because the FFE had outgrown the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall. During the show, there would be snacks and game tables set out for their audiences. But as more years went by, the audiences grew and more tables were added. Then 1995, there were so many tables that would be needed, that FFE decided to move their Cabaret into the school’s auditorium. Every since that year, Cabaret has always been in an auditorium. Also every Cabaret, the show ended with this saying from each director, “wherever you go, always go ‘With A Song In Your Heart.’ ” Then the show choir would sing, “With A Song In Your Heart.”[26]

Competitions

The show choir has won over seventy grand championships, claimed seventeen national awards in twelve states and two countries. The Boingers have claimed over sixty caption awards for Best Instrumental Combo. Findlay First Edition always strives to improve, and know that they are expected to perform better as each year passes. The show choir has claimed the grand champion at the Showstoppers National Festival. They have also claimed the FAME New York Grand Champion in 2007. Findlay First Edition is the first show choir from Ohio to win and has claimed the most Grand Champion at Bishop Luers Midwest Individual competition. The show choir is a well known in the country, but definitely in the Mid-West area.

References

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