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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 5, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 49
Seattle Men's Chorus holiday concert
THE TRADITION CONTINUES
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Seattle Men's Chorus holiday concert
THE TRADITION CONTINUES

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

'... OUR GAY APPAREL'
SEATTLE MEN'S CHORUS
BENAROYA HALL
Through December 22


I admit it; I'm a Grinch. The winter holidays just don't do it for me and always make me feel like the bastard at the seasonal family reunion. It's the time of year that I (as do many of us) reluctantly drag our feet in getting into the holiday mood of things. But traditions are traditions, and nobody likes to monkey around with tradition. The Seattle Men's Chorus' holiday show has become a tradition for a good portion of Seattleites. It helps bring together a community and usually offers, at the very extreme beginning of the season, the first of the holiday cheer. It's a choral heralding of the season about to start causing the Pacific Northwest to say: 'Great. The holidays are here.'

This year's SMC holiday show '...Our Gay Apparel' is full of the usual chorus traditions - as stated on their program cover, it's 'Seattle's Other Holiday Tradition!' There's the traditional Christmas carols that are tried, true and (maybe a bit) tired. There is the obligatory Chanukah song, traditional drag schtick, the harmonious Captain Smartypants, the audience sing-along, 'Silent Night' in sign language, and of course the 'Special Guest' star the first weekend of the concerts This time the vocal talents of Broadway belter Linda Eder lends her powerful instrument in assisting the chorus, with over 200 men standing behind her.

Being a self-taught singer (with never a professional lesson), Ms. Eder's voice has been compared to the greatest of the belters including that of Barbra Streisand. Strong, clear and with an octave range that would make you want to slap Santa, Ms. Eder's songs can easily be heard throughout the entire Benaroya Hall auditorium. It is easy to see why she has become a star on Broadway as well as a highly successful concert performer with over 15 CD credits to her name. Meshing a program of music from Broadway and traditional holiday songs, Linda Eder's voice takes control whether she is singing 'Don't Cry For Me, Argentina,' 'I, Don Quixote', or the powerful renditions of 'Do You Hear What I Hear?' 'Oh, Holy Night,' or 'The Little Drummer Boy.' It is her voice that is 'a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices' and there is absolutely no doubt of it when she lets her voice shine.

Then there's the chorus. The first number, 'This Christmas,' was led by soloist Paul Gillispie whose voice was clear and strong. A group of men were providing ballet accompaniment, but it came across as more distracting from the song than highlighting it. It was the third song of the concert, a beautiful, arrangement of 'God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,' that finally delivered the first of the promised 'good cheer.' The somberness brought out the harmony and lit the proverbial tapers of the holiday.

Original songs by chorus member Eric Lane Barnes were presented - as is par for the seasonal course. The first was a cute song about the 'extremities' of that famous gift, the 'Marvelous Holiday Sweater,' which included a fashion show accompaniment that made guest star Linda Eder proclaim, 'I want one of those sweaters!' Another was written for the a cappella group, Captain Smartypants, an ensemble of the Seattle Men's Chorus, and involved the adult male singers' attachments to their teddy bears. Although a cute song with very good voices singing, the boys missed their mark and should have forsaken their 'Teddy's' for any number of the real 'bears' behind them. The final number was (assumingly) meant as a tribute to recently departed ladies and had impersonators of Joan Rivers (Gerald Gravallese) and Elaine Stritch (Joseph L. Lytle) among others, although I found it a little unsettling when Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana escorted each other onto the stage. (Thank goodness Jackie's pink dress was clean!) The impersonators were all fine with 'Joan Rivers' being funny, but the Elaine Stritch seemed lost on the audience. And, why not? The majority of the people that would understand the joke, by knowing who she was, were on the stage - not in the audience.

The Seattle Men's Chorus will be performing at Benaroya Hall through December 22. (Special guest Linda Eder appeared only for last weekend's performances.) The SMC's holiday concert, '...Our Gay Apparel' is an enjoyable show. It is very much like going to the traditional holiday gathering: you may drag your feet in going, but you see people you haven't seen in a long while, and you eventually give in, relax and enjoy yourself knowing that you don't have to do it again for another year. And you almost always get a little surprise that makes it all worthwhile.



Seattle Men's Chorus' '... Our Gay Apparel' concerts continue in Seattle at Benaroya Hall 12/12 @ 8 p.m., 12/14 @ 2 p.m., 12/14 @ 7:30 p.m. with sign language interpretation, 12/21 @ 7:30 p.m., and 12/22 @ 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $28-$78. www.seattlemenschorus.org; 206-388-1400.

SMC will perform in Everett on 12/20 @ 8 p.m., at the Civic Auditorium (2415 Colby Ave., Everett). Tickets: $28-$48. www.seattlemenschorus.org; 206-388-1400.

The SMC's annual holiday concert performance in Tacoma was held 12/4.

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Seattle Men's Chorus holiday concert
THE TRADITION CONTINUES

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