The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC (GMCW) opens the holidays with humor and beauty, power and reverence – and balloons! Upon entering the Lincoln Theatre, the audience relaxes into a moment stolen from the 1920s gilded age, as if the theater itself invites you to step outside of time and into the arms of the Spirit of Holidays Present. The seating allows views of a stage awaiting the performance, decorated with a tree fully glammed out for its own holiday fun – and fun it delivers at the hands of Santa and his Elves as they swing into a spicy holiday concoction of “What a Gay Ol’ Christmas Tree,” backed by the full chorus swaying along to the gyrations and inviting smiles of the Elves. Opening with a bang, this Holiday Fest is on!
Artistic Director Thea Kano and Executive Director Justin Fyala, along with choreographers Joshua Chambers, Craig Cipollini, and James Ellzy, have created a celebration of the season in all of its kaleidoscopic happiness – the beauty of the music of the times and over time, respect for the traditions that tie us to generations past and future, and the unique, over-the-top antics that make each year a special celebration. In the voices of the hundreds of souls in the Chorus and their special guests The GenOUT Chorus of Washington, the Rock Creek Singers, the 17th Street Dancers, Seasons of Love, and Potomac Fever, this Holiday Special is a wondrous special memory for this holiday season.
Highlights of the show include a sensitive and ethereal “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by the GenOUT Chorus of Washington. These young people are poised and polished as they recreate a memorable take on this traditional number. At the end of the first act, the GenOUT Chorus joins the full GMCW for a beautiful and uplifting “O Come All Ye Faithful,” casting the Lincoln Theater into candlelight and transforming it into a cathedral welcoming all faiths and all people.
More recent entries to the seasonal canon presented through the evening include “Text Me Merry Christmas” and “Hanukkah Rhapsody,” both presented with energy and playfulness. In “Dear Santa,” featuring Brian Duckworth, Gabriel Lopez, Jordan Peyer, and Ryan Williams, the stage exploded with disco heat as the full chorus and the 17th Street Dancers brought down the house. The costumes for this number will pull you back to the ’70s and its fabulousness.
Each song creates its own mood through voice, action, and movement. Dance solos and group numbers are all exquisitely choreographed and executed, drawing upon a broad vocabulary of time, place, and culture. A solo by Joshua Chambers to the inspirational singing of Abel Jimenez brought together ballet, Martha Graham, Pilobolus, and a touch of Olympic gymnastics. The moment where Chambers boyishly awaits a snowflake to fall reminds many of us of winter joys in our own childhood.
Costumes and lighting further the mood, from the dazzle jacket worn by Kano to the multiplicity of scarves that adorn the black-suited, crystal-bauble-enhanced members of the Chorus. Scene and action changes move smoothly. At the end of the evening, the audience exited abuzz with praise and grins, hugs and high-fives for the dancers in the lobby still in their hats, ties, and pants from the final, throw-it-all-out-there rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that had us all on our feet by its end. (Note: Ken dolls work as hatwear.)
The Holiday Show features a tiramisu of Christmas standards, fresh songs, and irreverent takes and twists on audience favorites from the past and present. The GMCW and their guests will start your holidays with a mix of intimacy, power, delicacy, and grace – and balloons!
Running Time: About two hours, including a 20-minute intermission.
The Holiday Show, presented by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, plays through December 15, 2019, at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St NW, Washington, DC. For tickets, call 1-877-435-9849 or go online.