A Cool Yule Indeed with the Seattle Men's Chorus at Benaroya Hall
Also see David's review of A Christmas Carol
As led by their ever ebullient artistic director Dennis Coleman, the SMC kicked off with snazzy, jazzy renditions of such contemporary Christmas songs as "Cool Yule,""Everybody's Waiting for the Man with the Bag,""Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" and "Jing-A Ling, Jing-A-Ling," then yielded to the SMC's select Capt. Smartypants revelers for a humorous "50 Kilowatt Tree." The mood changed for a pair of more somber and soothingly sung selections, "O Magnum Mysterium" and "There Is No Rose" before act one wrapped with the gentle "This Holiday" and a campy, drag-dominated spoof "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear."
Act two kicked off with a nod to the traditional in beautiful renditions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "O Come All Ye Faithful," then kicked into high-guffaw gear with a laugh-filled "Christmas Classix," a clever condensation of televised Christmas perennials from It's A Wonderful Life to A Charlie Brown Christmas, and a tongue-in-cheek reprimand from the SMC's African-American members of the scarcity of "Black Christmas" traditions. There was a somewhat truncated version of the chorus' perennial "Silent Night" (ending in an ASL version) and a nod to Irving Berlin with a jaunty "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" complete with Andrews Sisters drag facsimiles. The concert climaxed with a nod to another December tradition in "Hot Hanukkah."
Megan Hilty kept her two sets short and sweet, and got some great comic mileage after a Coleman-skewed intro announced her as the Broadway star of Nine to Four! With her next role on TV's much hyped mid-season hopeful hit "Smash" as an actress competing to be cast as Marilyn Monroe, an MM-styled rendition of "Santa Baby" seemed apropos, and she caressed "There's A Place Called Home" from Alan Menken's A Christmas Carol expertly before scoring a knockout reprising her past performance as Galinda with a raise the roof encore of the Wicked hit "Popular." The thoroughly likable Hilty was a great "home girl" addition to the evening.
Beyond Coleman, the success of the SMC's holiday concerts is also owed to Assistant AD Eric Lane Barnes (and his special lyrical flourishes), principal accompanist Evan Stults, and ASL interpreter par-excellence, Kevin Gallagher. And a special nod in this show to chorus members Nathan Wilson, Chris Eisele, Jim Kendall and Corey Nunn as the "Big Bang" theory cast members adding to the hijinks of the evening.
This chorus is justly acclaimed and appealing for all ages and persuasions. Should you be in Seattle between now and December 23rd, consider Cool Yule a highly recommended option.
Cool Yule encores Dec. 3, 11, 18, 22 and 23 at Benaroya Hall, downtown Seattle at 3rd and Union. with select dates in Tacoma and Everett as well. For show-times, tickets and other information go to www.flyinghouse.org.