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BWW Review: OYE MI CANTO a Thrilling Show for GMCLA

GMCLA never disappoints. Their summer concert Oye Mi Canto, which took place at the Alex Theatre Saturday June 25 and Sunday June 26 featured the small Gay Men's Chorus of Cuba Mano a Mano whose singing skill and artistry blew the roof off the Alex. Combined with GMCLA, the Latin sounds were rhythmic to the point of heart-pounding and oh so moving in every way. This is the first time the five men chorus have performed outside of Cuba on tour, and their very presence with GMCLA shows the mission of Gay Men's Choruses everywhere to come together in unity to champion the causes of gay men worldwide, especially in light of the horrific Orlando, Florida massacre two weeks ago.

It's hard to beat Latino rhythms. They pull you in and make you move and groove to the beat even while sitting in your seats. So, without a doubt, I found this concert to be the very best of the season, for that reason, for the presence of Mano a Mano and their beautiful sounds ... and for what the whole piece says and means about moving the gay community forward.

Highlights of the show included: "Oye Como Va"; the title song "Oye Mi Canto"; Mano a Mano's renditions of "Lacrimosa", "No Soy Perfecto", and the colorful Tropicana Act One Finale which included among others the "Cumbanchero". Act Two brought the ever popular "Guantanamera" to the forefront, as well as the gorgeous "Make Them Hear You"; Mano a Mano's "Karma Chameleon", "El Unicorno", "Mira", and "Bonito y Sabroso"; the gorgeous "Mi Tierra" with Mano a Mano and GMCLA joining forces, and the finale "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You/Conga". The biggest and most delightful song of the whole presentation was commissioned by GMCLA "Havanasis" with music by Michael Shaieb and lyrics by Richard Blanco from his poem based on Genesis: "In the beginning, before God created Cuba, the earth was chaos, empty of form and without music". This was a scrumptious ode to Cuba, its music, its food, its rum, its coffee, its sugar.,.. and delicious culture.

Thanks to executive director Chris Verdugo, artistic director/conductor Dr. Joseph P. Nadeau and to the entire orchestra. Also to choreographers Billy Rugh and Michelle Benton for their great work and to Philip Hayman for terrific costume design especially in the Tropicana and Conga numbers. And a huge shout out to Mano a Mano, pictured below, and to their musical director Ernesto Lima Parets. Their participation - the first tour out of their country and into the United States - made this entire show a very special event to be remembered for all time. I only hope that the show was recorded for posterity!

(photo credit: Freddy Morales)

The group now consists of Arian Ferrer-Castro, Carlos Raul Torres, Orlando Cartier Sanchez, Miguel Angel Herrera and Yorlan Arencibia, under the musical direction of Ernesto Lima Parets.

Come back for a fantastic 38th season beginning in December with the Holiday Spectacular: Cool Yule with very special guest star Cheyenne Jackson!

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From This Author Don Grigware