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This past July, HBO’s Girls star Lena Dunham invited fans to audition as the opening act for her Not That Kind of Girl book tour. Her website stipulated that to be considered, acts had to be between three and five minutes long and applicants had to be able to perform with just a microphone.
Jen Gregorio (COM’15), a huge Girls fan and the business manager of BU’s female a cappella group Chordially Yours, applied, but thought nothing would come of it. She filled out a short application and sent in a link of the group singing a mash-up of Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.”
“I forgot I even did it until I received an email from her publishing company several weeks ago saying that we had been picked to open her Boston show,” Gregorio says. “My heart dropped into my stomach—we didn’t expect this to happen. When I told the girls, everyone was freaking out. It was unreal. We’re all big Girls fans.”
The group will perform tonight, October 2, at Dunham’s sold-out show at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, the second stop in an 11-city tour that includes Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, and Toronto. Afterward, the Emmy-nominated actress, writer, producer, and director will talk and read selections from Not That Kind of Girl (Random House), her memoir-advice book that went on sale just yesterday and is already being positively reviewed. The New York Times calls the book “smart and funny,” noting, “With Not That Kind of Girl, Ms. Dunham…gets as naked in print as her alter ego Hannah often does in the flesh. The sharp observation and distinctive voice she honed in Girls and in her 2010 movie Tiny Furniture are translated to the page.”
Chordially Yours plans to perform the mash-up that first brought it to Dunham’s attention three months ago. “Lena’s publishing company told us that she really loved it,” Gregorio says. The piece was arranged by Lauren Haslett (COM’14), the group’s previous music director.
Current music director Liana Gerstein (SED’16) says that if given the chance to perform a second song, the group will sing Britney Spears’ “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” which she arranged.
Adapting a song for a cappella comes with challenges, Gerstein says. “It’s important to know how every person’s voice will sound playing different musical parts,” she says. “Chordially Yours has a different sound than the other a cappella groups at BU. We have a more simple sound, and because we’re an all-female group, we have to overcompensate for not having the lower range, so we have more intricate things going on, like several harmonies at once.”
Over the past few days, the group’s 14 members have been practicing more than usual to prepare for their performance at the Wilbur, which holds upwards of 1,000 people. Gregorio believes tomorrow may be the group’s largest audience ever.
It’s still unclear whether they’ll get a chance to meet Dunham, but they have their fingers crossed. “I want to take a selfie with her,” Gregorio says.
Tickets to Not That Kind of Girl are sold out. The event, being held October 2, at the Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St., Boston, is presented by Brookline Booksmith and the Wilbur Theatre.