BWW Review: GMCLA HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR Shorter and Very Sweet
This year's Holiday Spectacular concert for GMCLA was very special due particularly to the direction by the interim artist Jenny Wong. This super talented lady took the chorus to a new high. I have never heard such beautiful harmony and singing, and I have been attending every year...for many, many years.
Ernest H. Harrison will assume his new leadership immediately and will hold the baton for the spring concert. Wong was available to rehearse the holiday show, and choosing her was a blessing, so in spite of the positive anticipation of having Harrison on board, the chorus is indeed sad at Wong's departure. In a brief speech she told the audience that the all male chorus inspired her.
This year's Spectacular was shorter than usual. 35 minutes for Act I, a 25 minute intermission and then another 35 minutes for Act II. There were fun-filled light moments, but fewer wild, full blown comedic turns. The chorus also did not dress down for Act II as they usually do: black bow tie for Act I; red bow tie for Act II. The arrangements of everything performed were utterly amazing. The sound that emanated from "White Christmas", Paul Williams' "One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" and "Sleigh Ride" was so joyous I practically lept from my seat to cheer the men on. I did yell "Bravo!" more than once to express my admiration. Needless to say, the entire sold out audience were overwhelmed with glee.
"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" had some sweet moments with gay couples cavorting in front and the segment devoted to the film "Love Actually" was a delightful medley of love songs like "All You Need Is Love", "Jump for My Love". "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and "Both Sides Now". The boldest, most animated segment was undoubtedly "12 Days to Christmas" from She Loves Me with holiday shoppers chaotically rushing back and forth in rhythm to the music with packages flying in every direction in the final notes.
My favorite segments were with the smaller Aftershock chorale in front of the larger chorus. In Act I they did "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and in Act II Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song", both numbers sounding different, unusual, with an unparalleled contemporary beat.
Other highlights included: the Hebrew folk song "Hine Ma Tov", the gorgeous "Glow" and "Sure On This Shining Night" and the powerful "Brightest and Best", as well as the more familiar like Jerry Herman's "We Need a Little Christmas".
Congrats again to the gifted Jenny Wong, and to ... the sensational pianist/accompanist Cassie Nickols Gonzalez, who also directed Aftershock so brilliantly, and to Lili Fuller for bright and zippy choreography.
The chorus is unstoppable, as they work tirelessly all year in preparing for performances and bringing the work into the schools to support gay teens and stop bullying. Bravo GMCLA for a great concert and for your unique contribution to spreading LOVE everywhere!!
(photo credit: Gregory Zabilski)