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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Seattle Men's Chorus and Seattle Women's Chorus
Glitter & Be Gay

Also see David's review of The Female of the Species

Glitter and Be Gay
Megan Chenovick
The pairing of Seattle Men's Chorus and Seattle Women's Chorus for an evening of Bernstein and Sondheim to celebrate Gay Pride in Seattle, Glitter & Be Gay, was an overstuffed mixed bag of a show, which pointed out how much more savvy and humor the 30-year-old SMC has up its sleeve than does its eight-year-old sister chorus. Narrated by an engaging if sometimes ill-at-ease David Armstrong (Executive Producing Artistic director of the 5th Avenue Theatre), there was lots more Sondheim on display than Bernstein. Indeed, the show could have done with a nod to Bernstein's Peter Pan or even a solo from his ill-fated 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and a bit less of Sondheim, who has been celebrated by the SMC before, and whose shows have been regularly revived at the 5th Avenue.

What was good about the evening, however, was very, very good. Notably, a brilliant and side-splitting five-minute encapsulation of the entire Sweeney Todd, with featured singers from the splinter groups Captain Smartypants and Sensible Shoes;  a winning rendition of "Pretty Lady" from the never seen in Seattle Pacific Overtures, sung with character and strong voice by Justin Carrell, Neil Hoyt and Steven Long; guest diva Megan Chenovick bring-down-the-house solo of "Glitter & Be Gay," which rivaled the song's performance in 5th Avenue's recent Candide; and the sheer power of both choruses joining together in the evening's opening segment (a medley from West Side Story and a Sondheim medley) and rather thrillingly on Sondheim's "Ballad of Booth" from Assassins.  It was also a treat to get to hear Sondheim's witty parody of Weill and Gershwin's "Saga of Jenny," "The Saga of Lenny," which was originally written for Lauren Bacall to "sing" at a Bernstein tribute a few decades ago.

There was too much Wonderful Town and little attempt at staging its numbers, and no On the Town at all, which could have given the SWC members more to play with. And act two went too far into somber Bernstein and Sondheim territory with rather sleepy takes on "No One Has Ever Loved Me," One Hand, One Heart" and "Somewhere." And though it was good to hear "The Hills of Tomorrow," a song no longer performed in productions of Merrily We Roll Along  as the encore number, a less pompous, simpler arrangement of it would have been preferable.

Eric Lane Barnes, associate director, needs to infuse as much humor into the SWC as has become his trademark with Captain Smartypants and the SMC as a whole. It's okay for the ladies to be tramps now and then. And artistic director Dennis Coleman has to watch his tendency to go for the melancholy and mournful. But mostly, it's probably not the wisest thing to bring these two large groups together into one event, as it limits the stage space for some playful staging and encourages over-length. Flying House Productions has a good thing going with the two choruses, and it's a joy when they each get to play to their strengths.

Glitter & Be Gay ran Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26, 2010 at Seattle Center's McCaw Hall. For information on the SMC and SWC 2010-2011 season go to www.flyinghouse.org.


Photo: Kevin Clark

See the list of this season's theatre offerings in the Seattle area.



- David Edward Hughes



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