Like being a Jamaican bobsled team just before “Cool Runnings” came out, or being a mustachioed private investigator when “Magnum, P.I.” was airing, being a member of an actual glee club during the “Glee” phenomenon has its benefits and annoyances. The men of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club (PVGC) know both.
Nick Miller, a Purdue sophomore from Fairland, auditioned last summer so he could continue singing while earning an engineering degree. Since his first show with the 60-member, all-male group, “people come up to me and ask if I’ve seen ‘Glee,’.” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to talk about our group. It’s brought us a lot more popularity, just because of name association.”
The differences between a real glee club, like Purdue’s, and the choir featured in “Glee” outweigh the similarities.
Miller explains: “We’re very professional about it. We say, ‘Yes sir, no sir.’ We pride ourselves on being gentlemen. On the show, not all the members take on that persona.”
The “Glee” cast doesn’t wear tuxedos as Purdue members do; and “People ask if we started 8because of the show,” said Miller. “Well, that’s not true. We started in 1893.”
Still, “one aspect where we’re almost exactly alike is the camaraderie,” he said. “If a member is having a rough time with a bully or some sort of problem, glee club members come behind that person. We make a point to emphasize brotherhood.”
To senior mathematics education major Lou Fenoglio, the new attention is a benefit, however misguided.
“If people are interested in ‘Glee,’ and come out and see us, they’re just expanding their horizon and the type of music they like,” he said.
Members say the constant “Glee” questions can get grating, as the show has changed people’s perception of what a glee club might entail.
“The show is overall good publicity, but it does get annoying when people say, ‘(PVGC) must be just like the show,’.” said Miller. “It’s not.”
“I think frustrating is probably a pretty accurate word,” said Jeremy Chance. “People often refer to us as ‘Glee.’ I'll get ‘How's ‘Glee’ going?’ Maybe it’s just me being a bit mired in the tradition of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club, but that’s what we are. We’re the Glee Club, the Purdue Varsity Glee Club or just the PVGC ..... we’re not ‘Glee.’”