San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
Brassy and Sassy
Nourse Theater, San Francisco, December 7 and 8, 2018
What would the season be without the special holiday revelry provided by one of the LGBTQ community’s prized jewels – the SFGMC? Well you don’t have to imagine the possibility as the 250-man strong chorus gleefully and majestically celebrate the season with their unique brand o, f solemnity, high camp, comedy and joy. Now in it’s 41st year as ambassadors, torch bearers, activists and bridge builders, the SFGMC never fails to surprise and engage their audiences through the power of their collective sound and sublime arrangements.
The 90-minute show featured holiday favorites and some twists on those old chestnuts. The chorus played some clever “what ifs”; what if certain songs had been written by the likes of minimalist Phillip Glass, West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein, Mame’s Jerry Herman, Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber and even ABBA. Gorgeous renditions of “Holidays Are Here”, Randol Alan Bass’ stunning “Gloria” and Sara Bareilles’ “Love is Christmas” are goose-pimple moment of sheer grandeur. During “Stars” (Ēriks Ešenvalds), the chorus members slowly lit stars creating a nighttime sky of endless possibility. Accompanied by water-tuned glass players, the piece is one of those moments of sublime beauty. There is power in numbers, and to see the entire chorus hand signing the lyrics to “Noche de Paz” was a moment forever etched in the mind.
Special guest Marnie Breckenridge, an acclaimed coloratura soprano, lent her clear, powerful vocals to “Suzy Snowflake/Glitter and Be Gay” from Candide, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “O Holy Night”. Ballet dancer Luke Willis had a cute solo as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in a funny “Happy ABBAdays” sequence. The chorus put the gay in gaiety with a drag version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, a campy “We Three Kings” and “The Christmas Can-Can.
Artistic Director Tim Seelig is as charming as ever, conducting the 11-piece orchestra with principal accompanist Joan Cifarelli. The fun and sometimes visually stunning choreography is by Steve Valdez. The SFGMC is a cultural institution we can all be proud of; offering opportunity, inclusion, diversity and compassion for the past 40 years. Their concerts combine the very best attributes of the LGBTQ community and commands our respect, admiration and support.
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus returns to San Francisco’s iconic Castro Theatre (429 Castro St.) for the annual Home for the Holidays concert on Monday, December 24, 2018 at 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. On Christmas Eve 1990, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus gathered for the first time at the Castro Theatre to bring the holidays home to those who had none. Thus, began the annual tradition of joining together every Christmas Eve at the Castro Theatre for this night of joyous music and heartwarming festivities. Tickets for Home for the Holidays ($30–40) are available beginning October 29 by visiting www.SFGMC.org or by calling 415-392-4400.
San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus will also be spreading holiday cheer to audiences at two other venues throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. On Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 7 p.m., the Chorus will perform at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse (2020 Addison St.) in Berkeley. Tickets for the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse concert are on-sale now at www.thefreight.org. On Sunday, December 16, 2018 at 5 p.m., the Chorus will perform at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park (1801 E. Cotati Ave.). Tickets for the Green Music Center concert are on-sale now at www.gmc.sonoma.edu/.