REVIEW: Brighton and Hove Actually Gay Men’s Chorus – OVATION

Carole Todd April 23, 2018

OVATION performed by The Brighton and Hove Actually Gay Men’s Chorus, St Andrew’s Church, April 21, 2018.

GENERALLY, the title of a show is chosen carefully to both attract an audience and to give an idea of what to expect. There was no need to attract an audience as St Andrew’s Church was packed to the rafters by the many fans of the Chorus. However, the title could have been interpreted as a tad self-congratulating, but there was no problem in that respect. Not only did the Chorus and guest stars receive an Ovation, it was a well-deserved standing one at the end of both halves of the show.

With Samuel Cousins conducting for the second year, with energy and obvious enjoyment, the musical accompaniment by Simon Gray on piano and Nick Rocks on drums supported the singers without ever over-powering them.

Miss Jason
Miss Jason

With the men looking smart in bow ties and red waistcoats, the Concert opened with a medley from Mame and Hello Dolly – a fitting choice for Miss Jason to make a glorious entrance from the back of the church in a magnificent outfit which he wore with as much style as any celebrated “Dolly” would do.

Bring him home featured the rich, warm tones this Chorus is known for and included some nice dynamics. There were a few messy vocal cut offs in a section of it but I put that down to nerves as the rest of the programme was very tight.

Philip Davies lead Stars singing with feeling and looking very relieved when he had finished …it’s never easy being the first soloist! A small point to be looked at is, during the solo section, the rest of the Chorus had been directed to “look at the stars”. a lovely touch but there needs to be decision as to how high the actually sky is. A tiny matter but it’s all in the detail!

Charlotte Vaughan
Charlotte Vaughan

This concert’s guest vocalist was the beautiful soprano – Charlotte Vaughan. Trained at the Guildhall School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. Her first song was The Winner takes it all which was an easy sing for her but she blossomed in Act 2 with Bernstein’s Glitter and be Gay which brought the audience to it’s feet with roars for more. Name to watch out for.

Somewhere only we know by Ian Hollands was delivered beautifully and his voice blended so well with the Chorus – I would have liked a longer version if anything.

One Moment in Time and Titanium were powerful Chorus items with clear lyrics (something not always apparent on pop songs) and Miss Jason should add Everything’s coming up Roses to his repertoire. It suits his showmanship and will be even better when “off the book”.

Jack Lynn’s Rule the World surprised us with such a big, full voice for some-one so charming and slight and Billy Kelly led the Chorus  strongly to close Act 1 with the ever-powerful Somebody to Love/Bohemian Rhapsody.

Raffles are always a useful way of generating more funds for the chosen charity of the evening which was Sussex Beacon this time but there are quicker ways of executing them as this one did drag on a bit in spite of Miss Jason’s quick off the mark comedy – “apparently it was a hamper-no-one told me!”

A short version of Carmen Burana led into a sassy quartet of Broadway “Babies”, Broadway hits I got Rhythm and Top Hat and a tender, melodious mashup duet by Chris Tippett and Gareth Ashley.

The anthem Rise like a Phoenix lead well into Patrick Bullock and his magnificent beard, singing Being Alive with great passion. This is the one song that I would have enjoyed just as a solo although I know this is not the choice of the Actuallys.

Nessum Dorma and Never Enough brought the concert to a rousing end and mention must be made of the excellent arrangements throughout from Samuel Cousins, Simon Gray and Jason Pimblett.

Thank you for a great night!

You can next hear the Brighton and Hove Actually Gay Mens Chorus sing at their Pride Summer Show on Friday, August 3 at St Andrews Church at 7.30pm.