Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
On June 24 and 25, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus rocked the crowd with Heartthrobs: Biggest Boy Band Ever featuring songs made famous by The Backstreet Boys, Gloria Estefan, Kool & The Gang, The Four Seasons, and more. This was one of the most energy-driven nights of entertainment I have seen in a long time. The arrangements, the high energy of the group, and the staging were astonishing.
I confess that I was not up to date on some of the songs the Chorus performed, but what they did with these songs was fantastic. They didn't just sing them, but they acted them out in unison. They are like the Radio City Rockettes with less dancing. Their guests, the famed Well-Strung quartet, did some cool songs as well.
The complete chorus under the splendid guidance of Dr. Timothy Seelig opened the show with "Celebration" which was made famous by Kool & The Gang and then went into the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends." Both were equally excellent. Highlights were One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" and "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons. Both were very wonderfully harmonious.
The Well-Strung quartet came stage-forward with violins in hand and did a lovely arrangement of "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid. I did know the "oldies" that were sung: the Beach Boys' "California Girls," and "Y.M.C.A" made famous by The Village People. Both were melodiously energizing. The group had fun with Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk" and did some wild dance moves.
The second act featured members of the group who form The Lollipop Guild, Vocal Minority, HomoPhonics, and SWAG. The Lollipop Guild was outstanding singing a medley from Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons including "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" with a vibrant solo by Mark Mezak. Vocal Minority did a Chicago medley that was crowd pleasing, while the HomoPhonics impressively sang "It's Raining Men" all in bright yellow plastic raincoats and umbrellas. SWAG did a medley of contemporary hits including "Rather Be," "What is Love," and "Treasure" followed by the combined SFGMC ensembles doing a boy band medley.
The Well-Strung group appeared center stage for a knock-out version of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" played like Johanna Sebastian Bach had composed it. This was breathtaking. Following that, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus did a complete turn and presented George M. Cohan's "Give My Regards to Broadway' and Stephen Sondheim's "Comedy Tonight." The full group had thematic reverberation singing these songs and a sublime arrangement of "Sunday" from Sunday in the Park with George. "A Musical" from Something Rotten and Dan Davison's "Ritmo" had pitch perfect resonance.
The next to last number was a tribute to those 49 young people who were tragically killed in the Orlando gay nightclub: a stunningly heartfelt arrangement of "Dedication," with music by Richard Burchard and text by Mark Twain. The group finished the program with Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's "Light" from Next to Normal.
All in all it was a great night for singing with the SFGMC.
For information on upcoming events, visit www.sfgmc.org.