The Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida is putting on a show as good as they have ever done, despite the departure of artistic director Gordon Roberts. The chorus, now under the direction of Harold Dioquino, seemed to be more relaxed and obviously enjoyed the performance.
"Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year," said Dioquino in his opening remarks. "People tend to be more loving, caring and forgiving. The program we have prepared is a feast of Christmas carols and music. Our wish is to share with you the hope, joy and love in this Season of Love."
Great as the chorus was, they had a rival for audience affection in the person of returning guest soloist Birgit Fioravante, shown in the photo centre stage with conductor Dioquino at left.
Her rendition of The First Noel was superlative, with a voice as radiant as the Christmas Star she was singing about. But the closing number of act one, O Holy Night, set a new standard. Audience members were literally stunned by the bravura performance of the chorus in full voice with her leading the way. People all around me were exclaiming "Wow!" and "She brought the house down!" While a few sourpuss audience members remained non-plussed by the overtly religious music, this must be set aside no matter what your beliefs are to properly acclaim this as the highest peak ever reached in a collaborative effort by the Gay Men's Chorus.
A medley of Christmas classics such as Let It Snow gave several chorus members a chance to show off their fine choreography in a wonderfully joyous and campy way. And those who enjoy drag queens were not disappointed by the performance of Rodney Bolton in Jingle Bells. That number started with Fioravante coming back on stage, only to be shooed away by Bolton in an outrageous drag outfit, complete with red cape!
From the crystal clear voice of soloist Jake Skarin on A King is Born, to fine dramatic effect of David Lombardi's voice in Whisper! Whisper!, this concert covered all the bases.
Of course an evening with the boys of the chorus would not be complete without a joke by Randy Washburn. This time he poked fun at Donald Trump's hair. "Trump has not said much about gays" in the election so far, said Washburn. "He probably figures if someone comes up with a solution to his hair problems, it will probably be a gay guy, so it's best to stay on our good side."
The Chorus will perform again tonight (Dec. 12) and next week. In a total of five concerts (the first was in Boca Raton) their Christmas offering will be seen by more than 2,000 people. In case there are any cancellations to these sold-out shows, visit the website www.gmcsf.org.
Performances are at the Sunshine Cathedral in Ft. Lauderdale.