BWW Review: THE HEARTLAND MEN'S CHORUS CHRISTMAS SHOW IS MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT AT THE FOLLY THEATER
It wouldn't be Christmas without a visit to the Folly Theatre in Kansas City for another much-anticipated holiday show performed by the Heartland Men's Chorus on December 7 and December 8. MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT is the name of the 2019 offering for the holiday season and the name describes exactly what the show accomplishes.
The chorus was formed in 1986, debuting it's the first concert with 30 singers on December 14, 1986, at Pierson Auditorium on the University of Missouri at Kansas City campus. Heartland Men's Chorus now has over 130 singers participating in their season of shows and special events. The Mission statement of the chorus was adopted in 1996 and has not changed since the group's inception. The statement reads: The Heartland Men's Chorus provides excellence in performance while advancing men's choral music, building community, and reaching out to diverse audiences. Shawn Cullen is the Interim Artistic Director and Conductor, while they seek to fill the vacant position.
When MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT began, I was puzzled by the traditional singing of "Here Comes the Light", "Do You Hear What I Hear?", and "We Three Kings". Having seen many of their shows I had become accustomed to their usual whimsy and light-hearted productions. Shortly after the chorus began their rendition of "White Christmas" they pulled pink handkerchiefs from their pockets and began to continue with "Pink Christmas", complete with Santa and some oddly shaped ballet dancers. The hilarious choreography was designed by John Edmonds a baritone and member of The Burnt Ends.
Alex Bay and Dustin Greer were featured as soloists with "Our First Christmas" which was followed by "Twelve Days After Christmas" featuring the Burnt Ends. I have heard the "Twelve Days of Christmas" more times than I can count, but this was the first time for the parody, and I can't wait to hear it again. "Bell Carol" was followed by the brilliant production of "Forgotten Carols from Other Lands" featuring Kevin Bradley and Brandon Shelton as flight attendants for Holiday Airways, traveling the world to uncover long lost holiday tunes. The chorus performed "The First Noel", "Chanuakah in Santa Monica", concluding the first act with "Miracle".
The second act opened with "Making Spirits Bright" followed by "Hope" with soloist Wilson L. Welch, "Light" featuring solos by Eric Aufdengarten, Randy Hite, R. Elise Pointer, and Pete Kuhn was followed with a solo by Jordan Hatley singing "Love Is Christmas". A traditional version of "Under the Holly Bough" was followed by the antics of The Burnt Ends with "Elves Broadway Christmas". Daniel Alford and Michael Anderson performed "Davey Dinkle", followed by "Home". It would not have been a proper Christmas show without an audience sing-along of popular classic carols. The delightful and uplifting program concluded with "Christmas In Kansas City".
Photos courtesy of the Heartland Men's Chorus