Gay Choruses Sing Sondheim, Shank in Special Concerts

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The Original Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus sings Sondheim this weekend. Credit: Submitted photo.

Two local gay men’s choruses have special programs planned for South Florida audiences over the coming weeks:

The Original Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, under the direction of Dr. Gary Keating, will present a musical salute to legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim at All Saints Episcopal Church on Friday, March 16 and Sunday, March 18.

Joining the 25 singers are special guests Lisa Vroman and Martha Bartz. Vroman has portrayed Christine Daae in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” more than any other actress, while Bartz is a classical mezzo-soprano soloist who has appeared with orchestras and choruses around the world.

Both also have long friendships with Keating. He hired Vroman as an apprentice singer with the Miami Opera in 1984, one of her first professional gigs. Keating and Bartz were both students at the University of Miami and remained in touch over more than 30 years. Both responded enthusiastically to his invitation to sing in Fort Lauderdale.

Together they will explore Sondheim’s works from his lyrics to “West Side Story” and “Gypsy” to his compositions from “A Little Night Music” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

“We started with a list of 122 songs,” he said. “We had to whittle that down to those special songs that simply had to be a part of the program."

Among the highlights of the program is a powerful arrangement of “Send in the Clowns” sung by the chorus.

“We’re having to work our butts off,” he said, promising an entertaining evening.

The Original Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus performs “Our Time with Sondheim,” featuring Lisa Vroman and Martha Bartz, on Friday, March 16 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 at 4 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 333 Tarpon Dr. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets at TheFTLGMC.org.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, under the direction of Harold Dioquino, will perform “Two Boys Kissing,” composer Joshua Shank’s musical adaptation of the Lambda Literary Award-winning novel by David Levithan.

The chorus will perform the dramatic work featuring six narrators, small ensembles, full chorus and instruments on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at the Sunshine Cathedral.

“Two Boys Kissing” presents the story of Harry and Craig, two seventeen-year-olds who are about to enter a 32-hour kissing marathon in order to set a new Guinness World Record. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teens and family members dealing with the universal questions of love and acceptance.

“When I first heard (“Two Boys Kissing”), I thought it was a powerful and beautiful work, but as we prepare for the concerts, I’ve also realized just how challenging it is. It’s a very distinct work, very learned, everything that (Shank) has created was for a reason. Joshua Shank is brilliant in taking the story from the book and making it into a musical in this style.”

The composer will participate in special 20-minute concert talks with Dioquino and chorus production manager James Smith and moderated by Our Fund’s David Jobin at each performance.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida performs Joshua Shank’s “Two Boys Kissing” on Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at 8 p.m. at the Sunshine Cathedral, 1480 S.W. 9th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets start at $35 at GayMensChorusOfSouthFlorida.org.


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