On Saturday evening I went to the concert of Cleveland’s North Coast Men’s Chorus (of which I was in the mid-1990s the Music Director). Their programs have been increasingly “lite” over the past few years, with a growing emphasis on popular and show tunes music, and de-emphasis on “real” choral literature. They have redefined their mission as an organization since I left the group, and the musical selections reflect that.
Their show this weekend carried the title “Broadway Our Way,” so they were quite upfront about the show tunes. There was a full house on Saturday evening. (The show was repeated on Sunday afternoon.) It was of operatic length, beginning at 8:00 PM and not finishing until almost 10:45. That really is too long, although to their credit, I was not looking at my watch saying, “Dear God, will it never end.” The whole flow of antics on the stage was much tighter and smoother than in the past, and they greatly reduced the amount of chitchat from the stage. (Guys, if I can read it in the program, you don’t need to tell me about it.)
There were a number of very funny bits (e.g. “Carol Channing”–chorus member Brian Fetty in Dolly Levi drag–wheeled out on a two-wheeler dolly); a song from “Naked Boys Singer” which displayed the bare butts of six luscious chorus members; a quite effective medley of songs from “Wicked.” But in the end, it was all too much. The fifth piece of chocolate layer cake rarely tastes as good as the first. That’s how I felt at this concert. The performances were fine, but I’d rather be left feeling a little hungry.