I can’t vouch for the truth of the confessions, at Let’s Misbehave! True Confessions of GMCW (The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC), but having each performer bare a bit of his soul as lead in to his song worked very well as a unifying theme for the cabaret. Their stories were wide-ranging: funny (lots of humor), sexy, and poignant. First, I have to note that their accompanist, Alex Tang, was superb on the piano.
Erich Sommerfeldt opened the show with a coquettish rendition of “I’m Everybody’s Boy,” a song about a lad who can’t seem to keep his pants on (which, by the end of the song, proved to be correct. Later in the program, he covered a song made famous by Bernadette Peters when she performed in on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, “Making Love Alone.” I cannot put it any better than Chorus member Kevin Thomason who referred to Erich as “a younger, hotter Paul Lynde.” Kevin himself is no slouch as a comedian, confessing to awkward moments when he couldn’t keep his hands to himself whether in church or in a department store, and giving quirky interpretations to the songs “My Stupid Mouth” and “Ironic.”
And their was still more humor from Michael B. Smith (who gleefully relished contemplating the demise of the ex who dumped him in “In Short,” Phil Melemed wondering at his longtime partner’s new found sexual inventiveness in “He Never Did That Before,” and Brad Rinaldo forewarned about those Baltimore bad boys (“Baltimore”) and growling in his own way through an Eartha Kitt classic, “I Wanna Be Evil!” Michael Aylward had a coming out Catholic loud and proud moment on “Epiphany” (from Altar Boyz).
One of the nicest treats was to discover several songs for the first time. JJ Vera gave a mesmerizing performance of “Lost Boy” which had me hunting the internet right after the show to identify the composer. Jarrod Bennett rocked out on “Finest Hour,” a roller coaster of a song that reconstructs an alcohol-fueled night. Lonny Smith sang an achingly beautiful “You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are” about parting ways with a lover who is hopelessly “lost and frightened and angry and broken.”
And then there were some familiar and beautiful ballads, beautifully sung: Michael McGovern and Michael Aylward on “When Your Feet Don’t Touch The Ground” (from Finding Neverland), Michael McGovern on “I’d Rather Be Sailing” (although the original song does not reference handcuffs), and Lonny Smith on one of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens finest songs, “Streets of Dublin.” Jay Gilliam and Rinaldo Martinez breathed vitality and playfulness into the song “Best Thing That’s Ever Happened To Me.”
Of course, the evening wouldn’t have been complete without Jarrod Bennett, Phil Melemed, and JJ Vera getting down and taking on the title song, “Ain’t Misbehavin’, at the start of Act II, and Rinaldo Martinez’s “Keepin’ Out of Mischief” closing out the show.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington cabaret series, under the direction of Thea Kano, provides an excellent showcase for the individual talents of Chorus members and allows them to explore a wide range of material.
“I’m Everybody’s Boy” – Sung by Erich Sommerfeldt by John Kander and Fred Ebb from Steel Pier.
“Baltimore” – Sung by Brad Rinaldo by Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler.
“Finest Hour” – Sung by Jarrod Bennett by Gavin DeGraw, Ryan Teder, and Ryan Zancanella.
“My Stupid Mouth” – Sung by Kevin Thomason by John Mayer.
“You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are” – Sung by Lonny Smith by Steven Lutvak.
“Best Thing That’s Ever Happened To Me” – Sung by Jay Gilliam and Rinaldo Martinez by Stephen Sondheim from Road Show.
“Lost Boy” – Sung by JJ Vera by Ruth Berhe.
“He Never Did That Before” – Sung by Phil Melemed by Mark Campbell from Songs from an Unmade Bed.
“When Your Feet Don’t Touch The Ground” – Sung by Michael McGovern and Michael Aylward by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy from Finding Neverland.
“In Short” – Sung by Michael B. Smith by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul from Edges.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’” –Sung by Jarrod Bennett, Phil Melemed, and JJ Vera by Thomas “Fats” Waller, Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf from Ain’t Misbehavin’.
“Making Love Alone” – Sung by Erich Sommerfeldt by Marilyn Miller and Cheryl Hardwick.
“Ironic” – Sung by Kevin Thomason by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard.
“Epiphany” – Sung by Michael Aylward by Michael Patrick Walker from Altar Boyz.
“I’d Rather Be Sailing” – Sung by Michael McGovern by William Finn from A New Brain.
“Again” – Sung by Jay Gilliam by John Stephens.
“Not a Cloud in the Sky Today” – Sung by Michael B. Smith by John Bucchino from Urban Myths.
“I Wanna Be Evil!” – Sung by Brad Rinaldo by Lester Judson and Raymond Taylor.
“Streets of Dublin” – Sung by Lonny Smith by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens from A Man of No Importance.
“Keepin’ Out of Mischief” – Sung by Rinaldo Martinez by Thomas “Fats” Waller and Andy Razaf from Ain’t Misbehavin’.
Running Time: Two hours, including a 15-minute intermission.
Let’s Misbehave! True Confessions of GMCW was presented by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 5 PM (ASL performance with interpreter Jaime Stephens) and 8 PM at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Sprenger Theatre – 1333 H Street, NE, in Washington, DC. For future GMCW cabarets, concerts, and events go to their website.