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Chorus Delights with Its Spring "Big Gay Sing"-Along
by Bruce-Michael Gelbert | >> see bio                                        
photo by Aron Norman
NYCGMC members
On March 27, at the New York University Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, the New York City Gay Men's Chorus (NYCGMC), under Artistic Director Dr. Charles Beale, treated us to a delightful evening of singing and sing-alongs, billed as "The Big Gay Sing," directed by Jeff Lettiere, and what a delightful concert it was! Assisting were pianist Chip Prince, bass player Jason DiMatteo, guitarist Courtney Sappington, percussionists Sue Hadjopoulos and Dan Gross and, on synthesizer, Jim West, with Tom McGillis interpreting proceedings in Sign Language. Special guests were Broadway's Andrea McArdle and, as host, Scott Nevins, introducing this "Sing" by declaring, "I am so excited and so gay, I'm combusting into a ball of glitter!" Also featured was NYCGMC quartet Broadway Voices, comprising Dan Baillie, Eric Saggese, Sonelius Kendrick-Smith and Phil Zipkin, who have their own show at Don't Tell Mama on April 25 at 6:15 p.m. and 26 at 3 p.m. ($20 cover plus two beverage minimum).

Chorus soloist Fredy Harris, the 200 choristers, and drag queen and guy dancers aptly opened "Sing" by zestily urging "Get This Party Started." Sing-alongs of "We Are Family" and, beneath spinning disco balls, ABBA's "Dancing Queen" followed.NYCGMC next turned to Broadway, beginning with McArdle belting out a tangy "Some People," from "Gypsy"-who would have thought that the original little orphan Annie would have grown up to become Mama Rose? After Nevins' riffs on icons Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand, Kendrick-Smith dulcetly began and then crescendoed in "Maybe This Time," from the film of "Cabaret," segueing into Angelo Cilia's peppy "Don't Rain on My Parade," from "Funny Girl," backed by NYCGMC and us.

photo by Mark Bradley Miller
Scott Nevins
Soloists Clete Larkey and Ben Becton and company, dressed as cheerleaders, led us all in saluting football hero "Mickey." Soloists Michael Morisi, ending his number with beautiful head tone high notes, and Chris Wagley, in full cry, poured out their hearts and tugged our heartstrings with, respectively, "Time Heals Everything," from "Mack and Mabel," and "And I Am Telling You, I'm Not Going," from "Dreamgirls."

After Nevins' introduction, "Madonna has always been the gay man's guiltiest pleasure," the Chorus and a septet of elegantly-garbed dancers, including soloist Mark Wadley and Chorus Queen Millie Shayntwrite, went on to "Vogue," which led into "Express Yourself," complete with baton twirlers, more dancers, and sing-along. Following the choristers' sonorous "O Fortuna," the opening of Carl Orff's 'cantiones profanae' (profane songs), "Carmina Burana," they moved on to "Thriller," with Harris, on the Michael Jackson part, Alan Anderson, doing the Vincent Price part, and a monstrous troupe of terpsichoreans. Then the Chorus, assisted by a team of country/western dancers, led us in Tammy Wynette favorite "Stand By Your Man."

photo courtesy of NYCGMC
Andrea McArdle
Matters took a fittingly political turn with what Nevins described as NYCGMC's "tribute to marriage equality," which included Baillie and Jason B. Schmidt's "Old Fashioned Wedding," from "Annie Get Your Gun," with "bride and groom" changed to "guy and groom;" an 'action,' with 'demonstrators' carrying "Vote No on Prop 8" and "Marry Us" signs; and, against a projected headline "California votes to ban gay marriage," which provoked many hisses, McArdle, sporting a "marriage is so gay" tank top, leading the Chorus and us in "Tomorrow," from "Annie"! What could follow, but gay anthem "Over the Rainbow," from "The Wizard of Oz," wistful and hopeful, with soloist Eugene Lovendusky and, then, the Chorus singing along with gay icon Judy Garland on DVD. Nevins enlisted a pair of 'volunteers,' good sports both, for a drag makeover and a star turn as the romantic pair in "Summer Nights," from "Grease," with singing provided by Chorus and audience.

A sing-along of Beyoncé Knowles song "Single Ladies" ("If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it") served as the official grand finale of "Sing," with NYCGMC-and Liza-signature song "New York, New York" as a fervent first encore. The Chorus took final leave of us with Diana Ross song "I'm Coming Out."

Catch Broadway Voices in "I Want it All!-A Maltby and Shire Songbook," at the end of April, and the full Chorus in its GLBT Pride concert, at Fashion Institute of Technology, on June 3 and 4. Check www.bapany.org (for parent organization Big Apple Performing Arts, New York) for ticket information.


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