Regional Reviews: Seattle
Play It Again, Santa at Benaroya Another Smash for the Seattle Men's Chorus
Benaroya Hall is alive with the sound of music by the wonderful Seattle Men's Chorus ringing in their holiday concert, this year entitled Play it Again, Santa. Chorus director Dennis Coleman, and Associate Director Eric Lane Barnes (who creates most of the SMC's special material) employ the 200-voice strong ensemble beautifully with an upbeat evening which manages several tugs of the heartstrings along the way.
A candle-lit procession to the beautiful strains of "Carry the Light Down" start the evening and the spirit and music never flags. The traditional carols range from "O Holy Night" to "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem." Humor takes over, from the spunky "Annoying Drummer Boy" to a comic highlight of the evening, the Asian men of SMC ribbing the need for "An Asian Christmas Song", a hilarious number written by chorus member Christian Tan, complete with a fan dance! The traditional "Silent Night" features a signed version of the song leads into local composer Melinda Bargreen's haunting "Silver Night."
Act two gives its regards to Broadway with an act-opening "We Need A Little Christmas" and an impressive staging of "Favorite Son" (retitled "Favorite One") from The Will Rogers Follies. The SMC's Captain Smartypants group tickles the crowd with Barnes' parody lyrics in "Shouldn't Be Carols," and a ribald audience sing-along to "Carol of the Bells" leads into a more traditional "White Christmas." A celebration of Washington and growing nationwide marriage equality is the touching focus of the Eric Helmuth's composition "Finally Here." A warm "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is followed by a rousing encore of "North Pole Rock and Roll."
Continuing heroes of the SMC concerts include Evan Stults at the piano, and the indispensable ASL interpreting by Kevin Gallagher. Seattle can indeed be proud of the Seattle Men's Chorus, certainly one of the finest male choruses in the nation, and an indispensable Pacific Northwest holiday tradition.
Play it Again, Santa runs through December 22, 2013 at Benaroya Hall, 3rd Ave and Union Street in Downtown Seattle. For more information on tickets for these performances and select dates at other venues, go to www.flyinghouse.org.- David Edward Hughes