Our beloved New York City Gay Men’s Chorus presented its “Big Gay Sing 7,” the latest installment of its ever-popular annual audience sing-along, during the weekend of March 20 to 22, honoring gay icons of cinema and more, in a concert at New York University’s Skirball Center, subtitled “Movie Mania!,” led by Artistic Director Dr. Charles Beale, staged by Jeff Lettiere, accompanied by pianist Aaron Dai, choreographed by Christopher J. Anderson and Ryan Scoble, signed for the hearing impaired by Tom McGillis, and guest hosted by the inimitable Bruce Villanch, who called this “the show for which I may not be gay enough” and claimed that the chorus boasted more Scot(t)s than there are “under Alan Cumming’s kilt!” Stephen Kurowski served as Production Manager and was assisted by Jonathan Jones. The second night’s performance, on March 21, is considered here.
The evening began with an Oscars-style opening number, “Big Gay Sing,” by Beale, Steve Milloy, and Lettiere, with a dapper Neil Patrick Harris figure, Tom Guthrie, as soloist, segueing into a no-less-lively “Footloose,” by Kenny Loggins, arranged by Milloy. Dancers portraying film divas and divos, including Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, and “Brokeback Mountain” cowboys, assisted.
The first of the diva tributes to sing along with was one to Streisand, billed as “You Can’t Beat Barbra,” and featuring “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “People,” and “The Way We Were,” in Milloy’s editions, with soloists Nate Gray and Alex Bernhardt. NYCGMC then remembered Audrey Hepburn with a hushed a cappella account of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s “Moon River,” guest conducted by second tenor Johnny Atorino. A festive “‘Mamma Mia’ Sing-along,” in David Maddux’s edition, as much about “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” as about ABBA, followed.
The chorus took part in the filmed version of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart,” and here, they offered a moving “The Man I Love,” by George and Ira Gershwin, arranged by Beale, which they sang in the movie. A zesty “Grease” sing-along, consisting of “Summer Lovin’,” “Beauty School Dropout,” and “We’ll Go Together,” by Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs, arranged by Madeline Myers and Milloy, with Scoble and Anderson as soloists, concluded the first half of the concert.
A sexy medley of theme songs from James Bond films—“You Only Live Twice,” “Goldfinger,” “Sky Fall” with fine soloist A. LaMar Torrence, and “Live and Let Die”—as arranged by Beale, enhanced by a host of hunky Bonds, opened part two of this “Sing.”
We were treated to a touching preview of NYCGMC’s June 23 Pride concert, “Generation Y,” at Borough of Manhattan Community College Tribeca Performing Arts Center, with “Brother, Because of You,” from Stephen Schwartz’s “Tyler’s Suite,” a chorus commission, which will be receiving its New York City premiere then, remembering young Rutgers student violinist Tyler Clementi, who was bullied and outed, and committed suicide as a result. Myers was the arranger and Leo A. Campos, the soloist.
The chorus’ next diva sing-along salute was to Bette Midler, “Place Your Bettes—The Bette Midley,” consisting of a jaunty “Under the Boardwalk,” a lively “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” and reverent anthems “From a Distance” and “The Rose,” in Myers’ editions, with Robert Stevenson as soloist. Vilanch capped it with a risqué ‘Soph’ joke and introduced Michael Masser’s “Do You Know Where You’re Going To?,” from Diana Ross’ film “Mahogany,” in which he made a cameo appearance, with an anecdote about his participation in it. Jonathan Bannigan and Jo Lee were the winning soloists.
NYCGMC took center stage, free of our vocal efforts, for two rousing songs from “Frozen,” Frode Fjellheim and Christophe Beck’s “Vuelie” and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s popular “Let It Go,” arranged by Beale, and a heartfelt “Come What May,” by David Baerwald, from “Moulin Rouge,” also in Beale’s edition.
Rounding off the concert were, from “Pitch Perfect,” “Bella’s Finals” and “Price Tag,” with soloist Danny Moreno; used in “The Breakfast Club,” “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” with Damian Kington; and finally, “Give Me Everything (Tonight),” with Tim Byerz.
for further information about the remainder of the chorus’ season.