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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 6 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 49
Review of SMC's Play It Again, Santa a perfect entrée to the season
Arts & Entertainment
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Review of SMC's Play It Again, Santa a perfect entrée to the season

by Miryam Gordon, SGN A&E Writer SEATTLE MEN'S CHORUS:
PLAY IT AGAIN, SANTA
BENAROYA HALL
Through December 22


It's time for 'Seattle's OTHER Holiday Tradition,' the Christmas-themed concert by Seattle Men's Chorus. This year's offering is a pleasing mix of the religious and the not-quite-secular with a slightly more serious first act, and the second act with a stage full of Santas. The robust and sonorous voices of 200 plus men on stage is a perfect entrée to the season for many.

Play It Again Santa included, for the first weekend of concerts, a special guest, Levi Kreis. Kreis is a multi-talented artist with ties to the Seattle area. In his guest performances, Kreis referenced becoming a star here at Village Theatre when he first began performing the character of Jerry Lee Lewis in the musical, Million Dollar Quartet (which was developed at Village Theatre), which became his Tony Award-winning role on Broadway.

Kreis showed his gospel roots by soloing with the Chorus in 'O Holy Night.' The relish with which he performed showed that he has deep feeling as a Christian. Raised in Tennessee, he spoke about his feelings of disconnection as a Gay teen and how relieved he was to find out later that he wasn't the only person who is Gay.

He demonstrated his song-writing abilities as he performed two of his own songs as well as singing 'Santa Send a Fella' with Captain Smartypants as back up. While he hinted that he wouldn't play any of his Jerry Lee Lewis repertoire, he did end the evening with a rousing encore that definitely pleased the crowd.

But, as always, the meat of the evening was the Chorus. A syncopated 'Noel!' early in the evening gave a delightful flavor. There were also a couple of fun, new songs. 'The Annoying Drummer Boy' was the gift of Eric Lane Barnes, the Chorus's resident funny songmeister, but a new contributor, ten-year Chorus veteran Christian Tan, created 'An Asian Christmas Song' to reflect his own particular niche that he wanted to recognize.

Though the Chorus' signature piece, 'Silent Night,' has often been done silently with sign language and white gloves, this year they included sign language along with their sung version of 'Silent Night' that then merged into a new arrangement of a song, 'Silver Night,' by local writer Melinda Bargreen, that is billed as the premiere performance of her Male Chorus Adaptation.

The second act began with a sea of Santas on stage demanding that 'We Need a Little Christmas.'

A cadre of about 10 dancers performed with several of the offerings, choreographed to good effect by Nathan Wilson. Some of the dancers participated in the sing-along portion of the evening in a less-than-serious effort to help the audience sing 'Carol of the Bells,' offering their own personal ding-dongs at the direction of Artistic Director Dennis Coleman. This support should probably remain unique to this concert and unrepeated.

A heartfelt rendition of another original song, 'Finally Here,' sung by composer Eric Helmuth, celebrates the advent of marriage equality in our state. A sweet wish to 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' rounded out the second act.

Everyone in the Chorus sounds great and this concert is a satisfying and mellow way to celebrate the holiday festivities together. For tickets, go to www.flyinghouse.org or call 206-323-0750.

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