Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bring on the MEN!... SINGING!!!


Hey hey smutwhores, it is I, your smut master. Yep, I know I've been AWOL. Sorry for dat. I guess life's been crazy busy lately. But I know... no excuse for a smut peddler. I will try harder. I think I need to spend some time in a 5-star rehab facility for procrastinators...

Anywhoo, being the f*cking thespian that I am, I decided to go see the Chor Leoni summer show at the Bard on the Beach tent in Vanier Park. Now for those who don't know who Chor Leoni are, they are a men's choir that hail from Vancouver, and are renowned for their refined sound and pristine harmonies. But tonight, this was the first of their summer shows at the Bard tents, which run for several Mondays. Most shows are sold out, so if you're lucky enough to snag a ticket, yay for you! To buy tickets, click HERE! (register for an account, then click on TICKETS, then choose "CHOR LEONI" in events)

When I went, I was a little hesitant... perhaps somewhat apprehensive. The idea of an all-male choir made up of young lads to old geezers distinguished men just doesn't sit well with me in the first place... I was prepared that the show could either be fantastic, or just painful. Plus the whole "NO STRINGS" puppet theme was a real gamble. Could be a tad creepy, but could be a night of childish antics that equals entertainment. I was torn prior to the start of the show.

Well I am happy to report that the show was fantastic. Awkward moments? Sure, there were many. But overall, the show was quite an effort, and at times many a heartstring were pulled.

Okay, let's talk about some of the HIGHlights! So the feat of fitting all these menz on that itty, bitty Bard stage was amazing in itself! It was like they told each dude that they had their own 4" by 4" square and that they had to perform like they were in f*cking Carnegie Hall while confined to it. And boy, did they deliver! They did look dapper in their tuxes and top hats early in the first half of the show, albeit it was a flashy, bordering on an unabashed gay-gay-gay glitzy frolick through showtunes. Jazz hands and all. The delighfully sparkly Cripps Brothers' take on "Me And My Shadow" was cute in a somewhat sanitized/staged sibling rivalry way...the people in the row ahead of me were so surprised that they were actually brothers. Haha. I was more surprised that both were... never mind. Hehe :P And the Riverdance-inspired jig was HIGHlarious! Chuckles all around! Now it's a true feat to get all those men to dance, so kudos to the choreography team for putting those boys through their paces. Speaking of choreography, the boyz of Chor Leoni managed to pull off the complicated steps of *NSYNC's "No Strings Attached" to much aplomb... it made me long for the days of the early 2000s boy band... ah, good times. And the guy who sang "When You Wish Upon A Star". WOW. Talk about a tear-jerker performance! Stunning. Absolutely stunning. The second act Muppet Show number, with all the costumes, was a sight to behold, and it was a hoot and a half. Nostalgic chuckles for all! And kudos to the person who made the Big Bird costume! Martha would be proud. The Count (From Sesame Street) number was such a great performance... not only for the guy singing that amazing song and pulling it off, but to the cute young Asian kid following him around with a toy bat dangling from a stick! That boy was NIMBLE! AND he was SINGING THE WHOLE TIME! Talk about professionalism! (I could've sworn there were TWO bat boys dangling toy bats around the Count, but it seems like one fell by the wayside... a bad holy water/garlic mishap, perhaps? Hmm...) And the ending numbers, "Forever Young" and "What I Did For Love" could've easily fallen into the fast flowing rivers of Velveeta cheesiness, but instead they wrapped up the evening very nicely with an air of sentimentality. In fact, the songs were so moving, the people in front of me were hugging, holding each other and crying... so emotional. Gawd I need a kleenex. Sniff...

Now here comes the negative. Oh, c'mon... you know you LOVE it when I dish it like it is, you smut junkies! Let me start off by saying that I HATE THAT F*CKING GUEST JAZZ SINGER! GET HIM OFF THE FREAKIN STAGE!!! Now the pristine vocal stylings of Chor Leoni don't mix well with the schwarmy, somewhat sleazy vocalizations of a "seasoned" jazz crooner. The reality that most of the Chor Leoni boys weren't miked during their solos clashed with the fact that this bombast jazz dude was MIKED the whole time. Ugh. It was hurting my ears. Bad. I thought I could deal with hearing him once, but TWICE? Then THREE TIMES?!? I know the Chor Leoni boys needed to do a costume change, but to have him eat up 15 minutes with a random freestyle scat session with the audience singing in high falsetto while he simulated the sounds of a bass with his mouth was excruciatingly painful... I was ready to bolt for the exit doors. Then he came out near the end to reprise "The Way You Look Tonight" (which we were tortured by earlier in the show) in the style of a failed Beast (from Disney's Beauty and the Beast) turned cruise ship singer... now that I kinda liked. He actually redeemed himself there, especially in the way he caustically interacted with the choir boys onstage. I say the director should DUMP the rest of his numbers, and just have him come out in the Beast mask and sing that song ONCE with the choir boys. Then you'll have a funny, yet somewhat poignant number that the audience can actually STAND.

Ugh. Jazz singer = UNNECCESARY. For this show, anyway.

Other negatives were that some of the vocals were many a time lost by the amazingly talented, yet LOUD band. Also, it seemed like the band was following the beat of their own drummer, so to speak, instead of following the lead of the choir director, who was conducting the whole affair all the way in the middle of the audience. Because of this, there were some awkward starts and stops that the choir made, especially during the "1,2,3,4,5..." counting song from Sesame Street (yep, that one, you know... the one with the psychedelic pinball machine? You know the one I'm talking about...). I think it seemed like the band just couldn't see the cues from the choir director. Simple solution: give the band/musical director an EARPIECE, and give him VERBAL CUES if you're that far away! Either that, or have the choir director on a video monitor that the band conductor can see. Problem solved!

Now some of the soloists' vocals during the *NSYNC number weren't as strong as a Justin Timberlake or a JC Chasez, but I'll forgive them for that. Overall, there were some strong soloists during the show, but it seemed the strong ones weren't featured as much as some of the weaker ones. Also, the Muppet Show number could be cut down just a tad... it just seemed like the endless parade of puppet characters just kept on going... and going... and going... We want more show! Puppets and costumes are cute, but MORE SINGING! PLEASE!

Now I could just keep going with all the flaws, but I won't. Why? Cuz it was their first show. And it's a local arts production, where they emphasized that it was all about having fun. And it was just that. A lot of fun to be had. I am a huge supporter of the arts, and Chor Leoni is a step in the right direction for enriching the cultural arts scene of Vancouver. I know after seeing tonight's show that it can only get better from here, and that I look forward to future Chor Leoni productions.

Please support Chor Leoni by clicking HERE!

Let's hear it for the boys! Let's give the boys a hand!!!

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