The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC presented their annual Holiday Show on a cold winter’s night and the warmth exuded by this very polished and respected chorus obliterated any bitter winds.
Since Dr. Thea Kano has helmed the role of artistic director several years ago, I have witnessed an alchemy of musical professionalism, musical excellence, and a more integrated presentation of production/theatrical elements in each and every concert.
A decided highlight of this opening night concert was a seamless, fluid integration of the more serious religious numbers with the more amusing, satiric, comic and novelty songs.
Another much-improved quality was the outstanding choreography that augmented many a musical number with pizzazz and syncopated musical rhythm (choreography by Craig Cipollini and James Ellzy).
Associate Conductor C. Paul Heins did a superb job of conducting many of the songs. Accompanist Theodore Guerrant played the piano superbly with Mary Scott on bass and Don Johns on drums.
The Concert opened with infectious “hub-bub” as holiday shoppers and carolers walked down the auditorium’s aisles to walk onto the stage and deliver a beautifully harmonic rendition of “Christmas, A Gift of Love for All.” A striking element was the full curtain opening to reveal the full chorus singing at full throttle (In today’s climate of divisiveness it was heartening to see this group still providing a safe haven for the LGBTQ community).
Next up was a euphoric display of choreographic vigor as six men danced their legs off to the Christmas Classic “Jingle Bells.” The tap dancing was intensely invigorating.
“What Child is This?” was meditative and soothing with the beautiful cello of Tommie Adams and Soloist Ben Harris.
The Gen OUT Chorus delivered a superb and moving rendition of the 18th Century English Carol “The Holly and the Ivy.” This group of committed young people has grown in professionalism and confidence while appearing on stage.
In the amusingly diversionary song “Silver Bears,” a parade of Silver-Haired Daddies and flannel-shirted “down-home” boys gallivanted across the stage to hilarious effect.
The Singing group Potomac Fever sang a very sensitive rendition of “Silent Night.” Soloist Kevin Thomason sang valiantly but his voice was too thin and reed-like to carry the rigors of this solo spot.
“12 Days of Christmas” was a deliciously whimsical and rhythmic piece of musical merriment.
Act Two Opened with the very dynamic and upbeat song “Ad Amore.”
“The Chanukah Song” (We are Lights) was stunning in effect. Soloist William Boyle sang with a rich Baritone voice.
Speaker Romm Gatongay narrated a special number that celebrated the various branches of the Armed Forces that was incredibly moving to witness. Mr. Gatongay had each member of the various branches stand to acknowledge applause. The entire Chorus sang a very heartfelt rendition of “I’ll be Home for Christmas” to complete the sentimental and appropriately patriotic mood.
The annual presentation of the highly-comic song “My Favorite One” was an audience favorite as usual. The song was performed with highly stylized movement and increasingly fast-paced and comic verbal wordplay.
Seasons of Love Director Greg Watkins did a superior job overseeing the two marvelous numbers “Mary Sat a Rockin” which rollicked to the rafters with a spirit of exuberant joy and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” which also possessed a euphoric sense of joy.
Baritone Adrian Gonzalez shone as a soloist with the entire chorus in “Am I Welcome Here?” Mr. Gonzalez’ rich, romantic and lush tones blended beautifully with the chorus.
The comic novelty number “There is no Mrs. Santa Claus” was delivered with panache and brio by Tenor Raymond Bradley Rinaldo. Mr. Rinaldo sang with the comic style of a vintage music hall entertainer or vaudeville entertainer of yore.
“Puttin’ On the Holiday Drag” was a cornucopia of visual delights as a parade of Gorgeous Divas and Drag Queens sang with merry gusto. Costume Designer Gary Turner should be commended for the marvelously larger-than-life costumes.
The closing number of the Concert “The Work of the Holidays Begins” was a beautifully-wrought song and its social commentary on feeding the homeless and comforting the lonely has never been so relevant.
A well-deserved encore came with an exciting rendition of “Jingle Bells.”
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC is a national treasure. The Holiday Show exudes a warmth that will keep you singing all season long.
Running Time: One hour and 40 minutes with one 20-minute intermission.
The Holiday Show of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC played on Saturday, December 8, 2018, at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington DC. It will also be presented on December 15 at 3 pm and 8 pm and December 16 at 3 pm. For tickets go online.