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Friday, July 2, 2010

OUTscene: A Chorus Decree: “Be Gay…” and Add Some “Glitter”

                     SMC and SWC totals 400!

By Ryan Burr
OUTscene Staff

This “Glitter” is far more memorable than the wretched piece of something Mariah Carey released a few years back. Just before Seattle Pride weekend, the Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus joined for a tribute to musical legends Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.

Artistic Director Dennis Coleman made the concert, “Glitter and be Gay,” equally focused on long-time chorus members, marking the 30th anniversary of the men’s chorus. It began with 46 singers, and now sees 200 to 250 at each show. The women’s chorus joined the organization in 2002, with its 86 singers.

An especially strong performance of “I’m still here,” from Follies, was also poignant for the reference to the AIDS quilt hoisted behind the singers. The soloist and chorus chimed in alternately, and the song is always endearing for its “I Will Survive”-type message to those who have had a hard-knock life: certainly gays have, especially in the 1980s and before.

The audience fell in love with Megan Chenovick, who belted out the theme of the program, “Glitter and be Gay” from Candide, one of Bernstein’s most unusual contributions, considered an extraordinarily daring ventures in musical theater, mainly because of the demands on its cast, orchestra, designers and artistic and technical staff. It is a highly intellectual and satirical—French satire to be exact—operetta. Plus, it has important historical roots.. As in the musical, Chenovick sings an operatic “oh-la-la,” essentially, as she is dazzled with a jewelry box full of goodies.

“Saga of Lenny,” written by Stephen Sondheim for Leonard Bernstein’s 70th birthday, was a great parody. Other lyrical contributions from Sondheim at the concert included, “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George, “Old friends” from Merrily We Roll Along, “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music, and “Comedy Tonight” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Some of the selections may not have lent themselves to overpowering vocals, but I feel like the chorus could’ve stepped that up a few notches at times. An important element of the two-hour-plus concert was the mingling of stage performers/dancers.

As the chorus enters its 31st year, Board President Jim Bachand noted that the chorus plans to take its entertaining and inspiring message outside Seattle—to places like Spokane, the Tri-cities, Yakima and other communities in Washington and northern Oregon, “where our message especially needs to be heard.”

Visit the men’s and women’s chorus Web site to donate or to learn more information: http://www.seattlemenschorus.org/smc/intro.asp.

The Pride concert from 2002!                                     

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