Battle of ballads: Crowd-pleasing lip-sync contest benefits sorority, charity


GREENFIELD — Community members donned wigs and outrageous costumes for a good cause on Saturday night, taking to the stage of the H.J. Ricks Centre for the Arts to show off their lip-syncing skills.

The star-studded evening included renditions of classics from Sonny and Cher, Merle Haggard and Elvis Presley, as well as homages to more contemporary hits, including Beyonce and Taylor Swift.

Six teams competed for the honor of earning a $500 donation toward the nonprofit organization of their choice during the inaugural Lip-Sync War presented by Psi Iota Xi, a women’s philanthropic group chartered in 1920 in Greenfield.

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Katie Ottinger, president of Psi Iota Xi and organizer of the event, wanted to do something special to mark the sorority’s 100th year in the Greenfield community. Until the idea for the lip-sync war came along, the women of Psi Iota Xi mostly relied on sales projects as fundraisers — homemade cheese balls and mums — along with the occasional style show at Cynthia’s Hallmark. Ottinger enlisted the 18 members of the sorority’s Upsilon chapter to help create a new-to-Greenfield fundraiser.

The teams were:

“Another Addison Adventure,” also known as Hancock County probation officer and auctioneer Wayne Addison, who performed for the Friends4Jessica Foundation, an organization named for Greenfield resident Jessica Barnhart. Barnhart suffered from a rare condition that took her life when she was 15, and the nonprofit created in her memory helps families in need of support with medical issues.

“Here Comes the Judge,” Hancock County Circuit Court Judge Scott Sirk, whose position prevented him from competing to benefit a nonprofit. If he had won, the second-place winner’s donation would be chosen.

“C.L. Ever,” CrazyLake Acting Company members Luke Agee, Trever Brown and Chris Schaefer, who performed in the hopes of earning a donation for KidsPlay, Inc., a local children’s theater group.

“Bridget and the AmErikas,” featuring Bridget Foy of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and Amanda Everidge, Amanda Hinkle and Erika Bruggeman, community health initiative leaders for Hancock Regional Hospital. They performed for Zoey’s Place Child Advocacy Center, a place where young Hancock County crime victims can report offenses and be safely and easily interviewed by investigators.

“David Minus Goliath,” NineStar Connect’s marketing director David Spencer, who performed for Girls on the Run of Central Indiana, a nonprofit organization promoting good health and confidence in elementary- and intermediate school-aged girls.

“The Mayor,” featuring Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell, who performed for Psi Iota Xi.

Hosts Kara Harrison and Amber Sermersheim, dressed in sequins and neon light accessories, guided the groups through the evening; Emily Wethington, Tracie Belongia and Terry Snow comprised the judges’ panel. They judged based on three areas: 30 percent lip sync precision, 30 percent creativity and 40 percent audience reaction.

Several teams had their own cheering sections to help them earn the edge in the audience reaction category: screams, whistles and hoots filled the theater as each team lip-synced and danced to their musical selections.

Lip-sync precision was based on whether it looks like contestants are actually singing the songs. Contestants received a creativity score contingent on costumes, props and choreography.

While some groups went all out with outfits, dancing and props, including dancing skeletons, others kept it simple. Fewell lip-synced to classic country songs, his only props a guitar and a cowboy hat.

Three rounds narrowed the competition until only Addison and “Bridget and the AmErikas” remained. The four women performed a medley of songs that included Patti LaBelle’s 1975 hit “Lady Marmalade,” earning earsplitting cheers from the crowd.

For Addison’s last performance, however, he brought in a ringer. Wearing a silver tutu and a blonde wig, Addison lip-synced to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” with the support of four backup dancers that included his granddaughter, Brynlee, who laughed and yelled, “Paps!” as he danced across the stage.

Addison won the $500 for the Friends4Jessica Foundation, while David Spencer’s rendition of “Monster Mash” with a rig of two dancing skeletons earned him the People’s Choice Award.