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All aboard the starship 'Harmonize'

Not all barbershop quartets wear straw hats and handlebar mustaches. Some come in chicken suits and Stormtrooper costumes.

The Rogue Valley Harmonizers, the local chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, goes to great lengths to keep audiences entertained during its fall production, "Harmonizers in Space: An A Cappella Odyssey."

"We're just trying to add insanity and wacky high jinks to traditional barbershop music," says Michael Biggs, who sings tenor in the group.

The men's chorus will present four-part harmonies and a lot of tomfoolery at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Central Medford High School, 815 S. Oakdale Ave.

Director Don Meeker wrote many of the musical parodies and the script for the show.

The script, which pulls from "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" (think Mel Brooks' "Spaceballs"), features outlandish characters such as Captain Quirk, Mr. Schmuck, Dr. Dan Neeboy and archnemesis Darth Fedora. Other Harmonizers are dressed as Mork, Marvin the Martian and aliens from "Toy Story."

"The plot line is that the starship 'Harmonize' is visiting three different planets and along the way discovers a farce has entered the system, and that farce is the dark lord Darth Fedora," Biggs says.

The starship "Harmonize" sets down on three different planets where the Harmonizers sing three different sets.

On the first planet, the men don Ray-Ban sunglasses and leather jackets over their alien apparel and sing '50s hits, including "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," "Under the Boardwalk," "Only You" and "Your Cheatin' Heart."

The second planet is the stage for a more traditional set of barbershop songs, such as "Back in the Old Routine," "Coney Island Baby" and "Jeepers Creepers." Meeker rewrote several of the songs with a space spin, including "Stormtroopers in the Sky," a parody of "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky."

At their final destination, the chorus, directed by Darth Fedora (Jim Thorpe) will sing Frank Sinatra songs, including "You Make Me Feel So Young," "Witchcraft" and a parody of "New York, New York."

Other local a cappella groups will perform between planet stops. The Tone Deaf Quartet — Biggs, Al Robins, Tom Walker and Doug Borngasser — dressed as chickens, a penguin ("a frozen chicken") and an egg will perform chicken-themed parodies, including "Don't Fry With Me" ("Come Fly With Me") and "The Chicken Sings Tonight" ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight").

Also on the program are Southern Oregon Sounds, the local chapter of the Sweet Adelines under the direction of Martha Segura; the Lytning Quartet, which will present "Till There Was You" and "Seventy-Six Trombones"; and the five-member Spare Parts, which will present "Ain't Misbehavin' " and "Lou Lou."

Tickets cost $15, $5 for ages 18 and younger, and are available at www.rvharmonizers.org or by calling 541-450-9352.

The Tone Deaf Quartet is, left to right, Doug Borngasser, Tom Walker, Michael Biggs and Al Robins. - Photo by Bob Pennell