As the days get shorter and the weather gets chillier, my favorite antidote to the encroaching winter is a strong dose of theatrical comfort food. Luckily for me, this is exactly what the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC gave me with the presentation of The S* Show, an evening of vocal performances whose energy was matched only by the glowing admiration of the packed house. Together, there was an energy and warmth that was more than a match for the cold fall evening outside.
The S* Show, so-called because it featured songs by only three artists – Frank Sinatra, Stephen Sondheim, and Barbara Streisand – was a cabaret style affair with a few round tables scattered across the wide open space of The Paul Sprenger Theatre in the Atlas Performing Arts Center.
Director (and Artistic Director of GMCW) Thea Kano presents a show that is silky smooth but still has enough pop (and Grindr jokes) to update the classic material. Alex Tang, on the piano, is almost preternaturally good at knowing exactly what his singers are going to do, when – and following them with every keystroke.
One by one, singers from the chorus came up, gave a little introduction, and sang their hearts out – solos in the first act, duets in the second – and brought the house down. There were far too many wonderful moments to single out individually, but here are some highlights from the evening:
- “I’ve Got a Crush on You” by Sinatra, sung by JJ Vera and Justin Ritchie. In this adorable and soulful adaptation, Vera and Ritchie manage to be both sexy and endearing as they give a rich vocal treatment to Old Blue Eyes’ hit.
- “Nature Boy,” also by Sinatra, sung soulfully by Jarrod Bennett.
- “Not While I’m Around” (Sondheim) – sung by Rob Finn. In this classic number from Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Finn adds an intriguing twist by directing the number towards his mother.
- “Marry Me a Little” (Sondheim) – sung by Jay Gilliam. Reacting to the deluge of gay men getting married thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling, Gilliam offers his own hilarious perspective that sometimes it’s nice to be a married – a little.
- “Leave You” (Sondheim) – sung by Michael B. Smith. This hilarious and whip-smart song is given a tremendous rendition by Michael B. Smith, who endows his performance with enjoyable characterization.
- “That’s Life” (Sinatra) – sung by Paul Negron. In his treatment of my personal favorite Sinatra song, Negron brings the house down with powerful vocals and strong emotion.
- “Come Rain or Come Shine” (Sinatra) – sung by Jarrod Bennett. This classic crooner’s ballad was expertly enunciated by Bennett, who possesses a wonderful vocal quality.
- “The Man That Got Away” (Streisand) – sung by Lonny Smith. This Streisand ballad was performed movingly and with great expression by Lonny Smith.
- “Move On” (Sondheim) – sung by Kevin Thomason. In this classic number from Sunday in the Park with George, Thomason brings a rich and varied vocal quality to the performance.
- “Funny Girl” (Streisand) – sung by Michael B. Smith. One of the best parts of this number, aside from Michael B. Smith’s deft treatment of the classic Streisand hit, was his hilarious explanation of how he fell in love with Babs in the first place: apparently, buying the complete Streisand canon in rural America in the 1980s was a little too much of a red flag for a closeted gay man, so Smith went two towns over to hear more of Streisand’s hits.
- “New York, New York” (Sinatra) – sung by Christian Gonzalez and Robby Dean. In this essential ode to the Big Apple, Gonzalez and Dean bring an unmatched joy and energy to this Big Band-esque tune.
It is a shame that The S* Show was only around for two performances on one day. But I urge everyone to check out this wonderful group for their style, substance, and yes – fabulousness!
Running Time: One hour and forty five minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.
The S* Show played for one day only at the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, performing at the Atlas Performing Arts Center – 1333 H Street NE, in Washington, DC. For more information on GMCW, visit their website.
Meet Soloist JJ Vera of The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s ‘The ‘S Show’ Playing This Saturday at 5 & 8 PM at Atlas.
Meet Soloist Paul Negron of The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s ‘The S Show’ Playing This Saturday at 5 & 8 PM at Atlas.
Purchase tickets to Rewrapped HERE.
December 5, 2015 at 8:00 pm
December 6, 2015 at 3:00 pm (ASL)
December 12, 2015 at 8:00 pm
December 13, 2015 at 3:00 pm (ASL)
Lincoln Theatre – 1215 U Street NW, in Washington, DC
Box office: (877) 435-9849
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