Banking on the popularity of Spike TV’s new “Lip Sync Battle” show, which pits lip-synching celebrities against each other for audience votes each week, the Project Graduation Committee at Cape Elizabeth High School is putting on its own version of this widely watched spectacle.

On Tuesday, March 8, teachers throughout the school district, along with a few community members and even some students, will give it their all in a lip-sync battle created to raise money for Project Graduation.

The event is a new fundraiser for the Project Graduation Committee, which for nearly 30 years has been raising money for the chemical-free, post-graduation party, billed as a safe way for graduating seniors to celebrate earning their diploma.

Suzanne Martin Pillsbury, a literacy specialist at Pond Cove School, and parent Mary Ellen Carignan, who are co-chairing the Project Graduation Committee this year, said they thought a lip-sync battle would be a great fundraiser since such competitions have become such a pop-culture phenomenon.

So far, 10 to 15 competitors have signed up to take part. Pillsbury said some of those who are taking on the challenge would likely be a surprise to their students.

In addition to the popularity of lip-sync battles, Pillsbury said, the Project Graduation Committee was also looking for a fundraiser that would involve the community as a whole, as well as students and teachers.

“We felt that students would respond to a night where their teachers are battling each other,” she said, “and more importantly, this platform allows students to see how teachers and community members can step out of their comfort zone and raise money for a good cause while having a great time on stage.”

Pillsbury said the Project Graduation Committee hopes to raise at least $3,000 with the lip-sync battle, which will put a unique spin on the viral videos popping up everywhere these days, whether on YouTube, Spike TV or “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Fallon is widely credited with creating the lip-sync revival after making such events a signature segment on his show.

The rules are simple, Pillsbury said. Each performer can choose a song, which has to run for at least 90 seconds, with a maximum time limit of 2 minutes.

“We expect some performers will dress up; however, we have encouraged them to mix it up,” she said. “Some of the best acts we have seen have been when celebrities are dressed as themselves and then they turn it on once the music starts. That to us is like a surprise attack. We want our audience to be surprised, and we have a variety of ways the performers may showcase their acts.”

The audience will decide the winner of each battle and then an overall winner will be chosen.

She said the committee is still working on finalizing the prizes that will be given out and said her group wants the prizes to be a surprise, as well.

“We have been so fortunate to have the support of our local businesses and families” for this event, she said.

It is also the goal of the Project Graduation Committee to make the post-graduation party free for all participating seniors and that’s why the group hopes the lip-sync battle will be a success.

“We know that the Project Graduation Lip Sync Battle will evolve with time, but are positive that it will continue in some format each year,” Pillsbury added.

The Spike TV version premiered in January and is already a hit for the cable television channel, drawing celebrity contestants from Justin Bieber and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to Maine’s own Anna Kendrick, star of the “Pitch Perfect” movies.

According to industry reports, the Spike TV show has already garnered more than 15 million viewers. The cable channel said that performance clips, just from the first three episodes, have already generated nearly 100 million online views, as well.

A Closer Look

Project Graduation at Cape Elizabeth High School is putting on a lip sync battle at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8. Admission is $5 for students and $8 for adults at the door.

Pop star Christina Aguilera and “Nashville” actress Hayden Panettiere peformed “Lady Marmalade” on Spike TV’s “Lip Sync Battle” in early February. Now the Project Graduation Committee at Cape Elizabeth High School is planning a local version of the show.


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