BWW Review: THE BRITS ARE COMING at Davies Symphony Hall Salutes The Music Of Our Friends Across The Pond
San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus - The Brits Are Coming
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, March 22, 2019
For their penultimate performance of their 41st season, the SFGMC salutes the music and culture of our friends across the pond in an evening both stately and dignified, but with the typical clowning and impishness we've come to expect. In the glorious setting of Davies Symphony Hall, a five-piece band accompanied the Chorus and they presented songs from all genres, ranging from classical, folk ballad, pop and rock.
The show opened with cheeky humor - an appearance and blessing by Queen Elizabeth, her long train sporting a collection of royal corgis. Of course, "God Save the Queen" adds an appropriate S and honors the 300 queens waving behind her. "Loch Lomond", a traditional Scottish song and "Danny Boy", an Irish folk ballad represent the earliest musical influences of the evening. Lin Manuel's satirical "You'll Be Back" from Hamilton has King George III lamenting the colonist rebellion.
The SFGMC is always generous with surprise guests, for this performance, two actors from the African American Shakespeare Company performed a scene from Richard III. Robin Hood, that's Robin with a Y, led his merry men through Mel Brook's humorous parody "Men in Tights" before the Chorus closed the first set with some Beatles (a lovely "Hey Jude') and of course, Queen ("We Will Rock You", "We Are the Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody").
The second act provided more camp humor with a hilarious re-working of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Cats from Forbidden Broadway. Sung to the music of A Chorus Line's "I Really Need This Job", "Stop Cats" pokes fun at the competing kitties. Adele is represented ("Rumor Has It", "Someone Like You"), as is Sting in a lovely cover of "Fields of Gold". Sir Elton John's "Your Song" and Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" lend themselves perfectly to the majestic scale of the entire chorus.
A highlight of the second act was Radiohead's "Creep", a somber tale of low self esteem that can be interpreted as an examination of suicide, detachment and lack of connection acutely felt in the LGBTQ community. This show was a meant to be a spring frolic and it succeeds in entertaining the audience with fun costuming and some neat choreography by chorus member Steve Valdez. For my tastes there was too much emphasis on soloists, with some uneven performances. There was, of course the grand full chorus sound with its power and elegance, but not enough to satisfy my hunger. Still, the SFGMC is always a very special treat for the eyes, ears and mind.
Photos by Gooch.