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Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall

Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3

Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall

The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA), under the leadership of Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto and Music Director & Conductor Ernest H. Harrison, has continued to garner acclaim for artistic excellence while remaining deeply rooted in service to the Los Angeles community and beyond by promoting civil rights, tolerance and acceptance through music. Founded in 1979 during the emergence of the gay rights movement, GMCLA has spread its message of love and acceptance with concerts across the globe and has raised its collective voice in the struggle for equality, social justice, the AIDS crisis, the fight for marriage equality, and for all those seeking to find their own voice.

The group's next long-anticipated event, QUEEN of the night, featuring the greatest hits from the critically acclaimed legendary rock band Queen, mixed with opera and high-energy dance numbers performed by the Chorus, live, in-person at UCLA Royce Hall on Saturday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m. Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall To find out more about the production, I spoke with GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto (pictured) about the creation of this special event concert.

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me, Lou. Tell me more about what audiences will experience during QUEEN of the night.

This show - which is over two years delayed - is a rock extravaganza mixed with opera and high-energy dance performed by the Chorus featuring the greatest hits of the amazing band Queen. About 150 of our member/singers will perform the iconic songs and anthems such including Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody to Love, and We Will Rock You. These classics are, arguably, among the best pop/rock ever written and the Chorus brings them to life as only we can. The show features four production dance numbers including I Want to Break Free which was initially banned on MTV! There are also some gorgeous opera arias including Freddie Mercury's over-the-top homage to the world of opera, Barcelona, to round out this mash-up of rock and opera.

Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall GMCLA Music Director & Conductor Ernest H. Harrison conducts the Chorus, with choreography by Janet Roston. How were the soloists and featured dancers selected for each number?

Janet auditioned members of the Chorus and selected a group from that process. We always have a good number of singers who also dance and GMCLA has been including production dance numbers that are fully costumed for many years. Our Chorus soloist are auditioned and selected by our Music Director & Conductor Ernest H. Harrison. Brian Justin Crum (pictured) and Alaysha Fox are our guest artists and they were chosen by yours truly.

What will Brian and Alaysha be performing?

Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall Alaysha Fox (pictured), one of LA Opera's rising stars, will be singing opera classics like Dich, teure Hallé from Wagner's Tannhäuser to Broadway favorites such as Summertime from Porgy and Bess. And Brian, who rose to fame after his breakout performance on America's Got Talent, will perform Queen hits like Somebody to Love, Don't Stop Me Now and others.

Given the shutdown of live performances over the past two years, how has GMCLA managed to stay active during that time?

During the pandemic GMCLA presented a full virtual season of concerts, special events, and school programs reaching thousands of longtime and new fans. From Los Angeles and Ireland to Brazil and New Zealand, GMCLA's streaming concerts were incredibly well received.

Tell me about grants and community support awarded to GMCLA.

GMCLA Season 43 is supported by a major grant from the LA Arts Recovery Fund. Additional support for GMCLA is provided by Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture; Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and WeHo Arts, City of West Hollywood.

Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall (Pictured: The Chorus and GMCLA's Music Director & Conductor at A Holiday Homecoming (UCLA's Royce Hall - December 2021)

What's up next for GMCLA?

GMCLA's Season 43 concludes with a milestone event, TAKING FLIGHT, on August 13-14, 2022, featuring a GMCLA co-commission and Los Angeles Premiere, Songs of the Phoenix. This major new work was curated by Grammy and Tony-nominated composer Andrew Lippa (I Am Harvey Milk) and written by 13 diverse and talented lyricists and composers, including legends Stephen Schwartz and Stephen Sondheim. The Chorus also performs additional music from the world of musical theatre and contemporary composers. Songs of the Phoenix celebrates the beauty of the fight - it's about heart, the return of laughter, light, and the lifting of voices. Special guest artists and single ticket on-sale will be announced at a later date.

Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall (Pictured: The Chorus and GMCLA's Music Director & Conductor at A Holiday Homecoming (UCLA's Royce Hall - December 2021)

Thanks so much, Lou! I look forward to being in the audience for QUEEN of the night this weekend.

Performances take place on Saturday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m. at UCLA's Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Tickets are available at GMCLA.org starting at $30. Intermission refreshments will be on sale at Royce Hall's beautiful West Terrace. For detailed venue information go to RoyceHall.org/visit. All photos have been provided by GMCLA.

All patrons attending a performance at UCLA's Royce Hall will be required to provide proof of up-to-date vaccination against COVID-19 (primary series of vaccination and booster, if eligible for the booster) or provide proof of a negative lab-based PCR test within 48 hours or a negative lab-based antigen test within 24 hours of entering the venue. Medical grade surgical mask or higher-grade respirator are required to be worn at all times.

Interview: GMCLA Executive Director & Producer Lou Spisto on QUEEN OF THE NIGHT at UCLA Royce Hall (Pictured: Lou Spisto at the 2019 GMCLA Gala with Chrissy Metz and Diane Warren)

GMCLA's free ticket program has provided access to concerts for thousands of low-income families over the decades, and research-based education programs have served over 70,000 young people throughout the Los Angeles region. In 2019 GMCLA performed at Carnegie Hall, The Hollywood Bowl (with Hugh Jackman), and in February 2020 GMCLA's performance at the Film Independent Spirit Awards was viewed more than 7 million times.

For more information about GMCLA visit:

gmcla.org, facebook.com/gaymenschorusla

Instagram.com/gaymenschorusla



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