An evening with MLGC
Hosted by Kate o'Donnell, this celebration of the Chorus 15th Anniversary at the RNCM began in great style.
A full and enthusiastic audience, warmly greeted Kate, who in turn welcomed the 50 strong chorus to the stage.The scene was firmly set for what was to follow.
And boy have they come along way IN THOSE 15 YEARS...
Starting from lowly beginnings in the downstairs lounge at Taurus Bar (which still hadnt been finished), three people came together to share their love of singing one cold, wet Monday night.3 then became 6 and then 10 and well the rest is history...
When it came to live performance, for a long time the group had a limited repetoire, albeit always well performed, but as the group burgeoned with some members moving on and new ones joining, the chorus began to build its confidence and as a result, its song choices.In many ways, last evening was the culmination of all this evolution.
The first act, contained a lovely mix of varied songs kicking off with the classic 'Night and Day', the biographical'We're all here', and my personal favourite 'Love changes everything'with its clever arrangement demonstrating the strengths of both Soprano's and Tenors.
An ABBA medley, a Rodgers And Hammerstein classic from South Pacific and the adapted version of 'Downtown', 'CANAL STREET', which was first sung in 2012 as part of the protest regarding the treatment of the LGBT community in Russia then followed.
Indeed we were reminded several times through the evening of the strong, ethical stance of the chorus in matters of diversity, equality and fairness.The SAFE TO SING initiative in 2014 was perhaps the strongest evidence of this.
After a short break, we were then introduced to the special guests for the evening, The Brighton Gay Men's Chorus.Ably led by MD Mark Yarrow, the imacculately turned out ensemble confidently took to the stage.We were treated to 'Nine to Five'(Sheena Easton version), 'Moon River', my personal favourite the Joni Mitchell classic 'Both sides now' and a fabulously camp, beautifully choreographed version of Kylie's 'Your disco needs you, which rounded of their performance in great style.
After this Kate re-joined us and was clearly thoroughly enjoying herself too.
Kate describes herself as a Performer, Writer, creator of Big Girls Blouse. Cabaret Artist, Transgender Activist and now..Host.
She effortlessly 'glides' through the evening with an air of grace and confidence, looking resplendent in both her costumes for the evening.
The series of brief interviews with key members of the MLGC on the Chez, works extremely well, as Kate combines her questions with some visuals of her guests at earlier stages of their lives.
Each story acts as barometer of LGBT history, covering topics as diverse as The Salvation Army to living with another female teacher in Yeovil, but NEVER actually using the word 'Lesbian'..The latter related by octogenarian Ann,who personally received one of the longest ovations of the evening.
In addition, Kate then gave us an excerpt from her own 'Big Girls Blouse'show, which is currently touring the UK,'Stand by your Trans',this both entertained and
informed, as she raised some of the issues involved in her personal journey of tranformation.
Special mention too for the 2 signers, who worked hard throughout, to keep up with lyrics.No easy task i can tell you.
All in all, having been on this personal, supportive journey of nearly 15 years, this evening was undoubtedly the most entertaining performance i have witnessed to date and as i left the theatre, found myself feeling both proud and excited in terms of what could be next for this collection of lovely wandering troubadours.
Reviewed for Canal St Online by Iain Scott.