Review #2: ‘Boots, Class & Sass’ at Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC

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Having reviewed the outstanding Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW) many times in the past, it was a delightful diversion to review an evening of country music escapism entitled Boots, Class & Sass on the final weekend of the run. My colleague Joel Markowitz reviewed the first weekend’s performance.

Opening with a humorous montage of iconic and witty film clips from western cinema (credit Video Master Michael B. Smith), this concert had an appealing laid-back earthiness throughout. Stage Director John Moran should be highly commended for injecting so much variety into these marvelous GMCW programs —–Moran has an acute eye for pacing from highly-intricate choreographic numbers (kudos to Choreographers Craig Cipollini and James Ellzy) to more intimate groupings to slightly comic novelty numbers.

A fascinating narrative oral history of the inception and development of the GMCW to its vital relevance today was explicated by Patrick McIntyre. A rousing rendition of Lerner and Loewe’s “I’m On My Way” from Paint Your Wagon was heartily sung in the background.

The definitive asset to this evening of musical diversion was the re-uniting of the fabulous high-stepping all-gay dance troupe –namely, the DC Cowboys (who retired in 2012).

Attired in tight-fitting jeans, shiny boots, and eye-catching shirts (“eye-popping” costumes courtesy of Tony Prestridge), these eight taut cowboys danced up a “syncopated-storm.” Stage Manager Barbara Kurzeja, has aptly lassoed these boys into a coherent, cohesive, and charismatic gigantic jolt of disciplined yet galvanic energy.

The DC Cowboys. Photo courtesy of GMCW.
The DC Cowboys. Photo courtesy of GMCW.

Their best number was the hilariously titled “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”.  The DC Cowboys continued on throughout the concert with the upbeat, exuberant “Lookin’ for a Good Time” and “The Aggie Song” from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. (The black star-lit sky in the backdrop was very effective in many of their numbers —courtesy of Lighting Designer John Moran).

The Rock Creek Singers group sang a very tender, plaintive and sentimental version of the beloved classic “Home on the Range.”

The simulating a capella group, Potomac Fever, sang an earnest and moving rendition of “Me and You” with soloist Robert T. Boaz singing with authority.

The inspirational youth-oriented GENOUT Chorus sang the affirmative “I Was Here” and was received with much applause from the audience (Indeed, this group represents the musical hopes for the next generation of gay and lesbian musical performers).

The GenOut Chorus performs. Photo courtesy of GMCW.
The GenOut Chorus performs. Photo courtesy of GMCW.

The entire full-ensemble of the Gay Men’s Chorus’ innovative rendition of Steve Grand’s “All-American Boy” was as satisfying as the comfort food of a home-cooked dinner.

Johnny Cash’s perennial favorite “I Walk the Line” packed a punch as performed in an intriguing medley arranged by Alan Billingsley.

The Country classic “Crazy” was a standout of the evening —performed in a very elongated, drawn-out and almost laconic fashion. Soloists Cory Claussen, Kia Suban, Kevin Thomason, and Rick Yarborough harmonized to heavenly effect and the harmonious moment ended with a striking image of Patsy Cline suspended from the rafters of the stage.

The full GMCW ensemble continued its enthrallment of the audience with a superior, powerfully-cumulative cover of Stephen T. Young’s “Seven Bridges Road”.

Kevin Thomason’s gloriously “no-holds barred” tenor pierced to the marrow in the very spiritual “Down to the River to Pray”.

The song “Feels like Today” was another full-throttle winner.

As the program approached conclusion, Soloist Dan Kaufman sang a breathtaking and heartrending version of “We Shall Be Free”.

Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” was given added resonance and relevance by virtue of gorgeous harmonizing and a visual montage of American flags, Gay Pride flags, and Gay Wedding Ceremonies.

The concert was such a success that a well-deserved encore of “Happy Trails to You” was performed with gusto!

Kudos and Bravos, also, to The Stage Band and The Cowboy Band which ably supported the concert. Theodore Guerrant, Shawn Alger, Anders Eliasson, Michael “Tumbleweed” Gottlieb, Thomas “Slim” Cox, Tom “Big Red “Nichols, Brendan “Lefty” Bailes, Mark “Blackjack” Casale, Chase “Woody” Maggiano, and Jarrod “Buster” Bennett all added supreme musicianship to the proceedings.

The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington at 'Boots, Class & Sass.' Photo by Michael Key, The Washington Blade.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington at ‘Boots, Class & Sass.’ Photo by Michael Key, The Washington Blade.

Congratulations are also due to C. Paul Heins, Assistant Conductor, who excelled at conducting several fine numbers.

Pulling it all together is the very talented Artistic Director, Dr. Thea Kano, who has pushed the GMCW towards a limitless future.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC delivered a casual country music evening of song and dance to savor!

Running Time: One hour and 50 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

Boots, Class & Sass ended its run yesterday, March 20, 2016, at Lincoln Theatre -1215 U Street NW, in Washington, DC.

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LINKS:
Review #1: ‘Boots, Class & Sass’ at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC by Joel Markowitz.

A Thank You to GMCW: The Energy and Commitment of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC by David Friscic.

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

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

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

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

Review: ‘The S* Show’ at Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW) at Atlas by Michael Poandl. 

Interview: 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 by Joel Markowitz.

Interview: 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 by Joel Markowitz.

Review: ‘Born This Way’ at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC by David Friscic.

Review: ‘When You Wish’ at Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC by David Friscic.

Review: ‘Love Rocks!’ at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington by David Friscic.

Review: Rockin’ the Holidays’ at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC by David Friscic.

Review: ‘Love Stinks!’ at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC by John Stoltenberg.

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David Friscic
David has always had a passionate interest in the arts from acting in professional dinner theatre and community theatre to reviewing film and local theatre in college to making numerous treks to New York City to indulge his interest in live theatre. An enthusiastic interest in writing has shown itself in a BA in English/Education and an MA in English Literature. Taken together, these two interests have culminated in the logical conclusion of writing for an arts blog. David moved up and down the East Coast due to his father's job at General Electric and this has helped him to perceive the world in a very open way. After his schooling, David taught in Catholic school systems for awhile and, then, spent three years in the seminary with two years at Catholic University studying Theology and one year in a practicuum working at a church in New York State. David currently works at the National Science Foundation as a Technical Information Specialist for the Office of Polar Programs and has had the great opportunity to go to Antarctica twice and Greenland once in support of the research community. He enjoys living in Bethesda and has taken courses at the Writer's Center. David enjoys swimming, traveling, reading, and working on committees at his condo. His major interest, however, is the arts and all it encompasses---from symphony, to film, to museum treks to live theatre. He counts having lunch with Lillian Gish and meeting Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Liza Minnelli and Sandy Dennis as some of the more exciting encounters of his life.