Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus Glitters!
The Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus delighted their audience with “Glitter”, their 27th annual spring show on Friday evening. The men delivered a generous helping of glitz and glamour from Hollywood to Broadway and beyond in their surprising new performance venue at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento.
Artistic Director Paul Jones, in his final season on the podium, led the men through a solid repertoire featuring the music of gay composers, and the selection meandered from the tender to the raucous to the hilariously campy. Jones will rejoin his chorus on the risers for the coming season.
Opening with a medley of show tunes, from “Let Me Entertain You” to the “Broadway Ladies Medley: The Gold Diggers Song, Big Spender, and Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” the chorus set the tone for an evening of familiar hits despite the distraction of two young dancers at the foot of stage right.
Among the choral performances, standouts included “Sometimes When We Touch”, a Top-40 ballad from 1977 which was imbued with a moving tenderness by the 40 men on the risers. “Children Will Listen” was very well sung, and “The Prodigal” was a poignant end to the first act.
Immediately following a lovely arrangement of “Over the Rainbow” in the second act, the audience was delivered a rare and wonderful treat. SGMC commissioned a song this season and its world premier was a showstopper.
Local poet Jovi Radtke is well known to fans of spoken word performance. She read “Voices Carry”, her work about the power of song and voice to free people from the pain and indignity of the closet, the metaphorical refuge and prison of LGBT citizens. Her poem spoke of the crimes of violence, bullying, shame, and self-hatred which are so common in the gay community. She suggested that one day, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people would no longer sing because it is the only way to be heard in the fight against injustice and ignorance, but because it would someday be a reclaimed expression of joy.
Parts of the poem were incorporated into a stirring, energetic song by local composer and performer Graham Sobelman. When the chorus performed the piece, the surging movement of the various voice parts was the perfect vehicle for the theme of release through song and the power of the human voice to carry the weight of change forward through the ages. The song was challenging both for the chorus and for the listener; in contrast to the relatively naive show tunes of times gone by, its 21st century rhythms and the subtext of layered musical themes was engaging and far beyond the toe-tapping simplicity audiences often expect.
The chorus handled it masterfully, and brought the audience to its feet in recognition of a major new collaborative songwriting team. The show concluded not with the traditional “Rhythm of Life” singalong but with a musical primer on “How to End a Show”—sure to be a new audience favorite in the next season and beyond.
Principal accompanist Kay Hight, resplendent in the most glittery of sequined gowns, coaxed wonderful music from the Yamaha keyboard, and sign language interpreters Drea Atkinson and Vanessa Jet added their ownsparkle with elegance and sparkle.
The performance space, sequestered from the high-ceilinged, hangar-like museum displaying hundreds of vintage vehicles , was surprisingly comfortable and acoustically sound. The ample off-street parking, the spacious area available for refreshments and raffle sales, and the easily accessible seating made the choice of venue a pleasant change from the unforgiving pews and crowded anterooms of the churches where SGMC usually performs.
This may be the dawn of a new chapter in the life and direction of SGMC.After 27 seasons, they are certainly good at what they have been doing,and it will be a delight to see what’s next.
"Glitter" will be presented once again, at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, Sacramento at 4:00 pm on Sunday, May 6th.
Tickets are available through the website, http://www.sacgaymenschorus.org, or at the door.
A few more photos from "Glitter":