Luther College Chips

Fellas no longer in the cellar

Nick Vande Krol (‘18), West Frye (‘16), David Pfotenhauer (‘15), and James Odegaard (‘15) perform at T-Bock’s Upstairs.

Nick Vande Krol (‘18), West Frye (‘16), David Pfotenhauer (‘15), and James Odegaard (‘15) perform at T-Bock’s Upstairs.

Will Heller (‘18) | Water Street Music Series

Will Heller (‘18) | Water Street Music Series

Nick Vande Krol (‘18), West Frye (‘16), David Pfotenhauer (‘15), and James Odegaard (‘15) perform at T-Bock’s Upstairs.

Julia Curtis, Staff Writer

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Fellas, a group of all-male Luther alumni and current students, performed at T-Bock’s Upstairs on Feb. 25 as a part of the Water Street Music Series. The group, directed by Assistant Professor of Music Andrew Last (‘97), had two performances on Saturday for sold-out audiences.

The Fellas performed musical numbers from off-Broadway shows; new composers; and classic musicals such as “Pippin,” “Newsies,” and “Spring Awakening.” The performance was interspersed with solo and small group pieces. 

Last recommends pieces for the Fellas to sing and then the Fellas pick their repertoire from their own music and the recommendations. Student Engagement Coordinator and Fellas member James Odegaard (‘15) said that these unique pieces offer a different experience than listening to more popular musical theater.

“A lot of these pieces are deeply personal because they haven’t been publicly broadcasted a lot,” Odegaard said. “What I think is really awesome is the amount of people who are coming who are not involved in any music. [People] tell me that they’re coming to support their friends but also to experience something new and this whole different world of stories of people.”

As part of the theme “The Stories We Tell,” Jimmy Deignan (‘15) sang a love song to Christopher Columbus and the first Apollo mission. Mitchell Stevens (‘17) sang about not knowing what to do with his arms while singing.

It also included more solemn songs, like “Netherlands Carillon,” a song about a man whose brother died in war, sung by Fellas newcomer Parker Fretheim (‘18).

“When you get into the show you get little vignettes,” Co-Director of the Water Street Music Series Will Krageschmidt (‘18) said. “They are like snapshots from people’s lives often from larger storylines.”

Will Heller (‘18) | Water Street Music Series
Benjamin Leonhardi (‘20) plays guitar for The Fellas.

Audience member Kate Knepprath (‘17) was amazed by the range of songs the Fellas performed.

“I feel like I experienced every emotion I have ever experienced in the last hour and a half,” Knepprath said. “I was crying, I was happy, I was sad, and I was laughing. They sang songs that I didn’t know, but they somehow still resonated.”

According to Odegaard, the group started three years ago under the direction of Last and has performed annually since then. Since students and Luther alumni comprise the Fellas, the group only rehearses once all together before their performance.

“There’s nothing like singing with a bunch of powerful voices,” Odegaard said. “When you get up there and you have strong singers that can all get together and sing emotional music it really does bring audiences to thunderous applause.”

Originally named “The Fellas in the Cellar,” the group used to perform in the Cellar on Water Street. Upon realizing the performance needed more space, The Fellas moved their main performance space to T-Bock’s Upstairs. Krageschmidt said that the Fellas’ performances are one of the most popular of the Water Street Music Series.

“From an organizational standpoint, the tickets really sell themselves,” Krageschmidt said. “It’s really rewarding to see a packed house. People buy tickets even knowing they can only stand.”

New Fellas member Michael Hagstrom (‘17) said that one of the things that separates the Fellas from other musical groups is the sense of community that comes from being part of the all-male performance.

“It’s just cool to see the different years of students coming back to sing with Dr. Last and it brings back such a strong sense of community,” Hagstrom said. “We’re just a bunch of guys having a good time singing and I think that’s what’s really fun.”

Last declined to comment.

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