HOLLYWOOD—Magnificent! Brilliant! Bravo! Just some of the accolades heard from the audience at the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles’ masterful production, worthy of the Great White Way, of ‘L’Amour’ – music from the movies of Baz Luhrmann.
The staged spectacle was produced in the heart of Hollywood at the historic Avalon, formerly known as ABC’s “Hollywood Palace,” where noted performers who graced its stage have included Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin as well as the patron saint to all gay men everywhere – Ms. Judy Garland. The members of the chorus transcended the stage, seeming to come out of every nook and cranny of the old mysteriously exotic 1927 Spanish Revival-style theatre structure. It seemed everywhere you turned, whether it be orchestra, terrace, balcony or even upper balcony they slinked and seeped from hidden locations ”¦and always singing.
GMCLA’s Executive Director, Hywel Sims, remarked “GMCLA is delighted to be back in Hollywood, where we gave our very first performance in 1979. Avalon was the perfect setting for our homage to Baz Luhrmann; we love Hollywood, and we’ll be back!”
The program was a delightful tease to the senses including “Nature Boy” (words and music by Eden Ahbez, Arranged by Bill Bowersock featuring Curtis Foreman); “Children of the Revolution / Smells Like Teen Spirit” (words and music by Marc Bolan, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic & Dave Grohl, Arranged by Michael Alfera featuring John Lavin); “Your Song” (words and music by Bernie Taupin & Elton John, Arranged by Bill Bowersock featuring Nathan Lucas); “Everybody’s Free” (words and music by Tim Cox & Nigel Swanston, Arranged by Jerry FernÃ¡ndez featuring Chris Etscheid); “La Vie BohÃ¨me” (words and music by Jonathan Larson, Arranged by Matthew Brown featuring Bernie Espinosa, Daniel Neri & Rich Pedine); “Young Hearts Run Free” (words and music by Candi Staton, Arranged by Matthew Brown featuring Richard Rocha & David Wagner); “Kissing You / One Day I’ll Fly Away” (words and music by Des’ree and Tim Atack, Will Jennings and Joe Sample, Arranged by Eddy Clement featuring Michael Lipari & Richard Rocha); “Medley from Moulin Rouge” (words and music by Giacomo Puccini, Leo Robin, Jule Styne, Quando m’en vo, “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” “Peter Brown,” “Robert Rans,” “Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan,” “Material Girl, Lady Marmalade,” Arranged by Steven Landau featuring D.J. Pick, P.J. Celiz, Aaron Millis and Santo Ragno); “When Doves Cry” (words and music by Prince, Arranged by Matthew Brown featuring Hayes Burton, P.J. Celiz, Chris Etscheid & David Hoey); “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps / Roxanne / The Show Must Go On“ (words and music by Joe Davis, Osvaldo Farres, Sting and Queen (Brian May), Arranged by Matthew Brown featuring Will Kohlschreiber); “Time After Time” (words and music by Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman, Arranged by David Stal); “Don’t Give Up” (“You Are Loved”) (words and music by Thomas Salter, Arranged by Michael Alfera featuring Louis Ramirez); “Beautiful Child” (words and music by Rufus Wainwright, Arranged by R. Guttridge featuring Jerry Cordova); “Come What May” (words and music by David Baerwald, Arranged by Bobby Buchanan) and spectacular rendition of “Love Is In The Air” (words and music by Harry Vanda and John Young, Arranged by David Stal).
A note of praise must be given to director Bill Bowersock, who declared, “GMCLA makes music which connects us all – audience and singers – in a visceral, deeply emotional way. This weekend, we told a story about love and life, struggle and survival through music, and I’m so proud to be a part of this wonderful group of men.” Too much praise can not be lavished on the work of choreographer Billy Rugh with chorus choreographer Mark Chung, costume designer Philip Hayman with hair/wig designer Curtis Foreman and chorus wardrobe by Kenny Callaghan, lighting designer Steven Young, sound designer James Hunt, art director Lance J. Olson, pianist Michael Alfera and even ASL interpreter Jon Maher, whose actions were gracefully interwoven into the production.
Photography Courtesy: Bill Dow Photography