Wednesday 24 August, 2011, 14.35


The Oxford Belles are Oxford University’s original all female a cappella group.  Formed in 1995 by Helen Whitely, a visiting exchange student from the University of Virginia, the group is now a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  A cappella groups that are affiliated with Colleges carry with them the unfortunate challenge of the yearly changing of the guard where new members join the ranks and strong singers head off into the ‘real’ world.  So with annual tours on The Belles schedule, including trips to California and New York, it was somewhat of a disappointment to see their significantly reduced ensemble of only 7 singers for their Bellissima show at the Ed Fringe.



Entertainment Value:


Production Elements:


This versatile group frequently changed both soloists and beatboxers for each song with highlights including their performance of Hot Stuff and their beautiful arrangement of Falling Out of Love.  The Belles’ energetic show was full of choreography including the girls dancing the Macarena while singing a mash up Just Dance, Disturbia and Sweet Dreams.  Though their choreography, despite providing lots of movement on stage, sometimes leant towards tacky and subsequently detracted from the overall intention of the song.

The Belle’s arrangements of both It’s Raining Men and Firework began too low for the soloists and without the use of any amplification the audience not only struggled to hear the soloists and the beatboxer but also the group as a whole.  With some promising moments, and special mention of Jane’s solos, the Belles presented an enthusiastic performance.


Overall Impression:

Reviewer: Amelia Alder