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Review: ‘It Takes Two…’ at Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington D.C.

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The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC has just offered the DC Metro Theatre Region an alternately wistful, romantic, and humorous cabaret review entitled It Takes Two…. Presented at the Atlas Performing Arts Center and charmingly laid out on a series of multi-level raised platforms, assorted seating spaces, and integrated dining tables that the audience could occupy right alongside the cast members.

This touch of immediate integration made for a seamless merging of the audience and the singers–thus, creating a gloriously intricate ambience. Patter and commentary was intermixed in a relaxed manner.  

The show opened on an upbeat and lilting note as tenor Kevin Thomason and Lonny Smith delivered a heartfelt rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “It Takes Two” from the classic musical Into the Woods.

Singers Eric Peterson and Erich Sommerfeldt joined forces and engaged in witty opening banter as then sang the Harold Arlen classic “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Their performance was a riff on the delivery of this esteemed song by gay icons Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand.

Singers Cory Claussen and James Trinidad performed a lively and rhythmic rendition of “I Know Him So Well” from the musical Chess.

Garrick T. Jordan sang with rich, robust resonance as he performed “I’d Give It All for You” written by composer Jason Robert Brown for his Songs for a New World.  Singer Michael Aylward joined him for this haunting and poetic song.

Ethan Chiang and Dana Nearing sang an evocative and image-laden song entitled “Flight,” written by Craig Carnelia and originated by Sutton Foster. The repeated line “before I am gone” added a potent yet tenuous fragility to this ravishing song.

Jarrod Bennett and Rinaldo Martinez sang a powerhouse cover of Bill Russell and Henry Krieger’s “Who Will Love Me As I Am?” from the cult musical Sideshow. This amazing song has never quite totally taken on the gay anthem status it deserves. It is certainly the only true runner-up to the most-acclaimed gay anthem of them all–namely, Jerry Herman’s “I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles.

Adam Hibma sang a rare solo (but, of course, it was mentioned that no song is really a solo when you consider the arrangements, the accompanist, and the reciprocity of the audience) as he sang the complex and poignant “Old Friend.” This song has always brought back so many memories of long nights talking of the heartaches and vagaries of life–most likely after tossing back a few drinks. Hibma’s voice flowed fluidly from his upper to his middle register with ease and sensitivity.

Michael Dumiao and James Trinidad met the vocal demands of “Let Me Be Your Star” from the cult television show Smash. Both singers exhibited stellar pure show-biz brio playing off each other with rhythmic skill and finesse.

After a brief intermission, Singers Erich Sommerfeldt and Eric Peterson sang one of the most amusing novelty songs ever written–namely the classic and ribald “Bosom Buddies” from Jerry Herman’s Mame.  This song’s unsurpassed sarcasm and witty verbal ripostes were performed to the hilt by Sommerfeldt and Peterson. (In the Musical Theatre Canon, only “Adelaide’s Lament” from Guys and Dolls and perhaps “The Grass Is Always Greener” from Woman of the Year are similarly hilarious.)

Singers JJ Vera and Dana Nearing delivered a torchy, sensuous rendition of the classic relationship song “Body and Soul”. Alex Tang’s piano accompaniment–so marvelous throughout–was particularly eloquent here. Vera’s voice had an edgy style that pushed the song over the top quite effectively.

“I’ll Imagine You A Song” was up next, and Lonny Smith sang an authoritative and pensively haunting version.

Michael Aylward and Ethan Chiang sang a heartrending version of the song “Only Us” from the currently playing hit Broadway Musical Dear Evan Hansen.

Jarrod Bennett and Cory Claussen sang a spirited cover of the song “Worlds Apart” from the musical Big River.

Michael Dumiao and Rinaldo Martinez sang a zesty and comedic rendition of “Sing!” from the mega-hit A Chorus Line.

“Falling Slowly” from Once was sung with beauty and transcendence by Adam Hibma and Kevin Thomason.

The rousing and rollicking “I Will Cover You” from Rent was performed with gutsy panache and edge by JJ Vera and Garrick T. Jordan.

This innovative and charming concert ended on an ethereal and meditative note as the entire cast gazed off in the distance and harmonized to rapturous effect to the delicate melodic line of Stephen Sondheim’s song “Sunday” from Sunday In the Park with George.

Special Kudos to Artistic Director Thea Kano’s vision and Music Director/Pianist Alex Tang’s beautiful elegance on the piano. Their leadership combined with these talented cast members made for a very intriguing artistic endeavor.

Running Time:  90 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

It Takes Two was presented by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC at the Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Sprenger Theatre on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 4PM and 8PM.  For more information on the GMCW go online.

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