The past informs the present – and in the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots, the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus offer us a journey through time, stopping at milestone dates and places in LGBT+ history.
ANDREW Farr in fur-collared overcoat and long rainbow scarf is Dr Woohoo- a gay version of the famous time lord who takes a passerby backwards and forwards in his TARDIC – his Time And Relative Dimensions In The Closet machine.
It’s a funny and clever idea and allows the time travellers to visit San Francisco’s Castro District, the Stonewall Inn in New York, The Department of Health in London at the time of the Don’t Die of Ignorance ad campaign in 1986, and finally to their desired destination – the Kylie concert at Brighton Pride 2019.
Chorus Director Joe Paxton has put together a selection of stunning songs showing off not only the power, intensity and subtlety of the chorus but also great talent in depth in its soloists.
The songs are too many to list – some 25 – but there are significant highlights. It’s a show about loss, unrequited love, of farewells, regrets, but also an affirmation of the power of love and understanding.
From the back of a totally blacked-out church, the chorus opens the evening with a stirring and beautifully toned version of I am What I Am, and all the following songs have a resonance that isn’t lost on the audience.
From the upper gallery Andrew Farr sings the full-bodied Streisand classic Before the Parade Passes By – a song on the jukebox at the Stonewall Inn on riot night.
Many of the numbers have an LGBT+ resonance if not a provenance – like ABBA’s Does Your Mother Know You’re Out? And I Left My Heart in San Francisco, but others like Nick Ford’s staggeringly powerful rendition of Conchita Wurst’s Rise Like a Phoenix are a totally uncompromising celebration of being queer.
Ending the first half, the chorus rise to the occasion with Run – a powerful version of Leona Lewis’ song of long goodbyes .
The second half – if it’s possible – exceeds the promise of the first, and outstanding for me was the Myley Cyrus Wrecking Ball and the beautifully written Sondheim classic No One Is Alone.
Bowie’s Warzawa lies underneath a slide show of the choir’s LGBT+ icons – from Alan Turing to Stephen Fry, Sondheim, Fox and Owl Fisher, Sue Sanders and Ellen Page and many more.
The Doctor and his companion finally make it to Pride and so of course the chorus end the show with two Kylie numbers Love Boat and Confide in Me.
Inevitably the audience demanded more and they got it in the shape of a full-blown version of Enough is Enough.
If you miss their second performance on September 21 at St George’s Church, Kemptown, be sure to catch their Christmas offering on December 6 at All Saints Church, Hove. There will also be a few tickets on the door tonight.
For more information about Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus, click here:
Review by Brian Butler