CHOIR REVIEW: Actually Gay Men’s Chorus

Brian Butler June 22, 2019

Actually Gay Men’s Chorus pull out all the stops for their new show of film and theatre tunes, Showstoppers.

Kara Van Park hosted the show with her usual mixture of dry wit, sly side glances and ruby rich singing voice, and Karen Orchin gave us a feisty soprano whose top notes are truly thrilling.

The choir’s many soloists – all quite rightly credited in the programme but too numerous to mention here – all show a high level of talent and confidence and it’s a tribute to the energetic musical direction and song choice by MD Samuel Cousins, that every voice shines in this ensemble.

With an Art Deco gold and black backdrop and inventive lighting effects, the evening opens with a lively Luck Be a Lady, followed by the inimitable Kara in the title song from Hello Dolly. Kara enters through the audience, all glittery gown and feathers, singing the highly appropriate “look at the old gal now, fellas.”

The song selection – all showstoppers – is made up of lots of Broadway and Hollywood favourites but also some delightful bits of whimsy – like Karen Orchin’s rendition of The Girl from 14 G – a high octane number about a poor girl who has crazy singers in the flat above and below her.

Bring on the Men – from Jekyll and Hyde – was unknown to me but highly appropriate for such a group, and Kara’s rendition of He’s My Boy – from Jamie the musical is a sad/happy love song of acceptance that rang all the right bells for the audience.

There were classic favourites like I Got Rhythm, Tonight and There’s No Business Like Show Business. And there are some new twists on old songs – like Samuel Cousin’s upbeat bluesy arrangement of Cabaret, and his dramatic version of Jekyll and Hyde’s This is The Moment.

What strikes you as a listener and watcher, on what could have been a very sad occasion, is the total commitment of this singing group – their infectious smiles and the energy they put into every moment is truly inspiring . The finale of chorus and Kara singing Colour My World says it all.

Showstoppers continues tonight Saturday June 22 at St Andrew’s Church, Waterloo Street, Hove. If you can’t catch it their Christmas show is on December 21.

Review by Brian Butler