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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 49
SMC shines with Holiday Glee
Arts & Entertainment
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SMC shines with Holiday Glee

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

Seattle Men's
Chorus presents
Holiday Glee
December 2-5, 12, 19-20
Benaroya Hall


The holidays have started in Seattle. It's neither the weather nor the decorations that have heralded the beginning of the season, but the annual holiday concert performed by the Seattle Men's Chorus. For a limited time, the SMC smartly sponsored Broadway star soprano Kelli O'Hara to help celebrate the holidays.

Taking on the challenge of finding a new way to sing about the holidays, the Seattle Men's Chorus put together a series of traditional and original music. Under the careful guidance of director Dennis Coleman, this year's concert paid homage American style, celebrating four different ways. The Southwestern tribute was 'Las Posadas Navideñas,' a Hispanic retelling of Joseph and Mary's journey to find an inn. The Las Vegas portion was lead by a three-person-version of the Rat Pack (Gerard Gravallese, Ron Douglas, Ryan Spady) singing 'Winter Wonderland.' In the second act, Broadways' 'Turkey Lurkey Time' (from Promises, Promises) gave a flashback to the late 1960s. For the fourth tribute, the SMC chose Branson, MO. With a parody of 'Looking for a City,' the duet of Manny Golez and Jaime Walrod had a 'diva-off' to see who could sing the song's chorus in a higher octave.

Seasoning the concert were songs ranging from the Hebrew 'Shehecheyanu' to the medieval carols of 'Balulalow' and 'There is No Rose of Such Virtue.' Cute songs were presented, such as 'The Davey Dinckle Song,' a story about a boy who pees in the snow and thus saves Christmas (sorry, no spoilers on how or why). Captain Smartypants, an a cappella subgroup of the chorus, made several appearances. Their 'Twelve Days of Christmas' was done with the perfectly blended harmonies that they have become known for, and combined it with a mesh of several other holiday songs making the result a new comical holiday classic.

As the concert's title  Holiday Glee  suggests, the SMC presented a tribute to the show Glee. With a character called Sue Sylvester, cheerleaders The Froot Loops, and Kurt impersonators, the concert presented several songs that have appeared on the hit smash television show, currently in its second season. Giving it their usual SMC spin, lyrics have been changed to fit the current political issue of Gay marriage.

'Don't Stop Believin' (the television show's unofficial anthem) was changed to refresh the awareness of same-sex marriage and how it's not national institution as of yet. Even Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance' was rewritten for the show. While an impersonator (courtesy of Julia's on Broadway) performed in front, the Chorus backed up by singing lyrics such as 'banned from romance.' This song was meshed with Beyoncé's 'Single Ladies,' and while the Froot Loops and football team performed, the lyrics sung were about being able to 'put a ring on it.'

The highlight of the concert was undoubtedly three-time Tony Award nominee Kelli O'Hara, who performed November 27 and 28 only. This woman not only looks like a vision, but sings like an angel. The first song she shared was 'Wonderful Guy' from her recently nominated performance in Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. She followed it by singing the title song from Light in the Piazza; another nominated role and a show she originated here in Seattle, written by Rodgers' grandson, Adam Guettel.

It was in the second part of the show that Ms. O'Hara truly allowed her singing abilities to shine. Her rendition of 'O Holy Night' was not only a pleasure to hear, but also something that will stay in the memory for quite a long while. Showing her vocal versatility, Ms. O'Hara's final song was 'They Don't Let You in the Opera (If You're a Country Star)'. Self-described as being (semi) autobiographical, the song charts the journey of a singer from the South who makes her way to Broadway. It is here that Ms. O'Hara proves she can sing not only softer classics, but can also be funny and belt out notes as good as any aria diva.

For those expecting the usual SMC humor, they won't be disappointed. Several numbers are done with drag performers, song lyrics are rewritten to make political points, and, of course, 'Silent Night' is performed in sign language with a blacklight highlighting white gloves. Raffle tickets offer both the chance to help support the SMC and possibly win an assortment of prizes including Alaska Airline tickets and a new Subaru. For a musical transition from Thanksgiving to the holiday season, the Seattle Men's Chorus is the way to go.

Contact Eric Andrews-Katz at eric@sgn.org.

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