This Pride month, while hundreds of thousands of LGBT and allied people take to the streets in marches and parades, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida will make a musical statement about the personal sacrifices and successes made to advance human and civil rights.
The concert, “Bold Voices,” will be presented on Saturday, June 23 at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale and will call attention to the struggles of LGBT people, women and communities of color to achieve equal rights and human dignity.
Artistic director Harold Dioquino has assembled a program that includes heartfelt anthems like “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman and Petula Clark’s “Color My World,” featured in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” The 110-member chorus will also perform lighter works, such as “If You Were Gay” from the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Avenue Q” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from “Hairspray.”
“The music weaves a story reminding us of the people who fought for the rights we are enjoying now,” noted Dioquino. “The songs were selected because of their positive messages of encouragement, love, hope and acceptance.”
Michael Leeds, Tony-nominated associate director of Island City Stage, wrote a narrative for the program that will be delivered by professional stage and television actor Michael Focas. The concert will also include a first for the chorus: original animations and videos created by production director James Smith and projected on two large screens on the Parker Playhouse stage.
Joining the chorus will be acclaimed local cabaret performer LeNora Jaye and the Unity on the Bay gospel choir from Miami. Both Jaye and the gospel choir will be performing individually and with the men of the chorus.
Isabella Gonzales Diaz, a sophomore at Avant Garde Academy of Broward, will conduct the chorus. Diaz was the second local student to participate in the young conductors program begun last year.
“We love this program,” said Dioquino, who began working with Diaz several weeks ago. “It’s a special opportunity for talented young musicians to work with a chorus and explore conducting.”
As the concert approaches, the 16-year-old has been rehearsing the chorus in her special number. She will also receive a $1000 scholarship funded by chorus member Dom Tomasello and his husband Bob Pagano.
Dioquino hopes to expand the program to include performances by the chorus in local schools in the upcoming school year. Generation Z, the post-millennials in elementary and high schools today have a very different perspective on diversity.
“We hope to perform and tell our stories,” he said. “Music is such a powerful force to combat bullying and promote understanding. We’ve come a long way, certainly, but have much further to go.”
The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida presents “Bold Voices” at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 at the Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. 8th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets start at $36.50 at GMCSF.org.