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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 30, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 26
SMC's Bette, Babs & Beyonce was a bit sedate
Arts & Entertainment
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SMC's Bette, Babs & Beyonce was a bit sedate

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

BETTE, BABS & BEYONCE
SEATTLE MEN'S CHORUS
MCCAW HALL
June 23 & 24


I love the Seattle Men's Chorus. I love the Seattle Women's Chorus. I sang with the women for five years and it's hard work and a bit of sacrifice.

I find it hard to write 'review' articles about the concerts because part of me wants to just write lovely prose and support the efforts. For the most part, that's an easy choice because the choruses are accomplished and polished and sound fantastic.

The latest outing of the Men's Chorus at McCaw, Bette, Babs and Beyonce, included some wonderful choral singing, some wonderful solo singing, some really sharp choreography with a smaller, nimbler, much more polished crew of dancers.

There was also a magical ending moment that made people (me) get a catch in the throat: the last song was 'What the World Needs Now' and Artistic Director Paul Caldwell asked people to take out their cellphones and turn on the 'flashlight' function and wave them around. That was soooo coooollll!

The difficulty with the evening kind of started with the whole title thing.

The title implied that the entire concert was going to be focused on Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand and Beyonce Knowles. Period. It is a fun title. It suggests an exciting, hit-filled, upbeat, dance-filled and dance-inducing concert with few ballads, unless they are big show-stopping numbers.

The concert started out with an energetic 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,' that set a great tone, but from there, much of the rest of Act 1 seemed oddly programmed. There were too many ballads, too many non-Bette, Babs or Beyonce songs, and some song choices that had me tilt& 'If I Were a Boy?' Those lyrics are not Men's Chorus friendly.

Even songs that were more show-stopper-like were somehow slowed down way too much. 'If I Could Turn Back Time' is an example of a beat that could only be called 'sedate.' Even 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' wasn't fast enough to get the audience clapping for more than one stanza.

The song choices in the second act were a bit better, but by then it was clear that the concert was a 'diva' concert, and not just focused on those three women. Annie Lennox's 'Walking on Broken Glass' started it off.

I also love Eric Lane Barnes, who was publicly recognized and thanked as he steps down from 17 years as Associate Artistic Director but who stays on to helm the two 'pocket choruses,' Captain Smartypants and Sensible Shoes. However, the Barbrashop Quartet 'bit' with Captain Smartypants was the only time any impersonator showed up, and, of course, it was 'Babs,' and the Pants sang about not being able to get copyright clearance. But the Barbra impersonation bit fell really short of funny.

Everyone in the crowd was full of Pride and ready to really get into this concert. There were some lovely moments, and the men looked very sparkly in either a glittery vest or glittery bow tie. (I hope those costumes make appearances in the future, because they are a terrific look.) But overall, this concert was unfortunately not their best outing.

Discuss your opinions with SGNcritic@gmail.com.

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