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BWW Reviews: A Big Shout Out to GMCLA and VEGAS, BABY!

As part of season 36, GMCLA (Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles) outdid themselves in the presentation of their summer show Vegas, Baby! the weekend of June 20-21 at the Alex Theatre, Glendale. It was a fun, fun production like those of yesteryear, which featured much more than just the group's singing talent. Choreographers Billy Rugh and Michelle Benton had small groups from the chorus dancing their tushes off in several scenarios including a salute to showgirls (Cy Coleman's and Dorothy Fields' "Pretty Legs"/"Big Spender"), gambling fever ("Luck Be a Lady"), a tribute to Rocky and Vegas boxing ("Rocky Medley"), and just a plain old mischievous look at female as well as scantily clad male dancers shimmying those strip club poles ("She Works Hard for the Money").

Other appealing, popular music under the baton of artistic director Dr. Joseph P. Nadeau included Sinatra's "Come Fly with Me", Wayne Newton's "Danke Shoen", Sammy Davis Jr's "Mr. Bojangles", as well as Celine Dion's scintillating "The Power of Love" and Josh Groban's hit "Let Me Fall"(Cirque du Soleil) with soloist Melvin Robert knocking it out of the park while aerialist Sagiv Ben Binyamin performed his sensuous and death-defying handstands high above the stage balancing with only the support of two heavy cloth sheets.

Affable executive director Christopher Verdugo was on hand to announce the upcoming season that includes the Holiday Spectacular in December, a Bette, Babs & Beyonce Diva Tribute in the winter saluting female empowerment, and the summer show for 2016 - a combo of the chorus with the Gay Men's Chorus of Havana, Cuba, Mano a Mano. Sound exciting? Can't wait!

Of course, there was a salute to Vegas wedding chapels where an Elvis impersonator happened to be lurking around with "Marry You" and "Viva Las Vegas" as finale. Two other contemporary highlights were "Work" made famous by Britney Spears with some really fast and acrobatic dance moves, and a hilarious rendition from the whole chorus of "Poker Face" made famous by Lady Gaga. Rugh and Benton are also responsible for the glamorous costumes throughout.

Just a word or two of praise to the folks at GMCLA for their outstanding achievements year-round as their outreach program travels out to high schools across the country - the program is called It Gets Better - to talk, to sing and to spread the joy and love of being gay to teens in a world where bullying and negative reaction never die.

When I spoke with Chris Verdugo last December he had the following to say about the overall ongoing success of GMCLA:

"Over the past several years, we've seen an influx of younger members auditioning and making it into the chorus. This wonderful occurrence has created a truly intergenerational membership within the chorus that is mirrored in the make up of our audiences. Never before have we had so many young people attending our season shows. And through the work of our it gets better tour, we are traveling to cities across the country, engaging in conversations about bullying while bridging the gaps that exist in those communities so they can work toward the shared goal of keeping their youth safe, alive and prospering."

They are always trying to make a difference and do indeed succeed...BIGTIME. Bravo!

(photo credit: Tiger Munson -

aerialist Sagiv Ben Binyamin

tenor Adam Simmons on the pole

aerialist Sagiv Ben Binyamin

Vegas, Baby!

Rocky Medley

When You Say Vegas

Some serious singing

Gay Marriage

singer Melvin Robert with aerialist Sagiv Ben Binyamin

When You Say Vegas

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From This Author - Don Grigware