Review: ‘The Way We Were’ at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC

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Yesterday, I was privileged to see the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC’s extremely intimate, engaging and musically creative concert of songs entitled The Way We Were. This stimulating and captivating concert showcased the acclaimed Potomac Fever acapella group as well as the popular and larger Rock Creek Singers group. Having heard these two fine groups several times in the past, I was very impressed with the ever-evolving artistic excellence of these two groups.

Potomac Fever. Photo by Emily Chastain.

Potomac Fever. Photo by Emily Chastain.

Potomac Fever opened up the first set with a disarming and witty song entitled “Stray Cat Strut.” The rhythmic, jazzy, driving upbeat tempo of the song —fingers snapping and cool, nonchalant air—-immersed the audience in the mood of the evening immediately.

Next up, the entrancing song “Falling Slowly” (from the musical Once) was a mesmerizing standout with Soloists Kevin Sweitzer and Kevin Thomason singing with beautiful tenor voices. The song bewitched with overlapping rhythms.

Freddie Mercury’s classic “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was given a jazzy, contemporary arrangement by Christopher Peterson. This song is always a bouncy delight.

“Hide and Seek” rocked with energy and very close-knit harmony. This stunning arrangement by Robert Boaz had a tight internal dissonance that was very evident throughout .The sad end of a relationship was so deeply felt.

“I’m Yours” was a sweet charmer with Soloists Robert T. Boaz and Jeb Stenhouse.

The Rock Creek Singers. Photo by Emily Chastain.

The Rock Creek Singers. Photo by Emily Chastain.

The Rock Creek Singers entered next with the prolific and accomplished Artistic Director Thea Kano conducting (Kudos as well to Alex Tang, Principal Accompanist). Soloist Calvin Robinson performed magnificently with the traditional spiritual “I Know I’ve Been Changed.”

“Deep River” was another moving traditional spiritual with a beautiful arrangement by Darmon Meader. The sentiment to “cross over to the campground” was incredibly moving.

Marta Keen’s “Homeward Bound” was beautifully elegiac and touching.

“Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” was yet another traditional spiritual and a strong highlight. Staccato –like rhythm and exceptional singing was a hallmark of this impressive song.

Potomac Fever as well as the Rock Creek Singers joined forces for the song made so popular by pop singer Cindi Lauper —namely, “True Colors”.   Soloist Rob Finn and Vocal Percussion by A.J. Rawls were outstanding.

The Broadway classic (from Man of La Mancha), “The Impossible Dream” was a stirring finale to Act One.

Act Two opened with wonderful songs from Potomac Fever. Stephen Schwartz’s idealistic and uplifting “Corner of the Sky” was given a very innovative arrangement by Gary Summons.

An interesting medley consisting of two Sondheim classics was performed sensitively by the group. “No One is Alone” from Into the Woods and “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeney Todd were given a beautiful arrangement by Dean X. Johnson.

“Perfect” was given an up-tempo beat and Soloists Matt Holland and Cooper Westbrook —energetic, peppy, and enervating.

The Rock Creek Singers came back onstage with an exciting version of “Vive L’Amour” that showed a great depth of brotherly camaraderie and was heightened with intricate and amusing physical posing and hugging.

“The Rocky Road to Dublin” was a traditional Irish song that entranced with its verbal complexity and its super-fast beat. This number definitely showed the deep humorous mass appeal that the GMCW is capable of. The sign–language interpreter really had his work cut out for him with this fast-paced song!

A very successful rendition of Sondheim’s classic “Send in the Clowns” was next up. I have never seen so much meaning and sophisticated irony injected into this most elusive and ambiguous of songs.

Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes” was a stirring and soulful heartbreaker.

Potomac Fever and the Rock Creek Singers reunited for the GMCW’s revered standard encore and finale—namely, their very personalized and politically –heartfelt version of “Make Them Hear You” from the musical Ragtime.

This concert was so marvelous that the audience rose to its feet and demanded yet another encore. Bravo to the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC!

Running Time: Two hours, and one 15-minute intermission.

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The Way We Were played on Friday, February 12 and 13, 2016 at Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC performing at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lang Theatre -1333 H Street, NE, in Washington, DC.

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Boots, Class & Sass is being performed on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 8 PM, Friday, March 19th at 3 PM (ASL) and 8 PM, and on Saturday, March 20th at 3 PM (ASL) at The Lincoln Theatre – 1215 U Street NW, in Washington, DC. Purchase tickets online.

LINKS: 
Jarrod Bennett on The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC’s ‘The Way We Were’ at Atlas on 2/12 & 13.

Tim Gillham on The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC’s ‘The Way We Were’ at Atlas on 2/12 & 13.

Jay Gilliam on The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC’s ‘The Way We Were’ at Atlas on 2/12 & 13.

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