Let’s revue

Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus welcomes Tony-winner

By Lisa Bennett

Photo: Vocalist Jennifer Holliday joins the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus for Center Stage: A Broadway Revue June 6

Grammy Award-winning singer, Jennifer Holliday will team up with the incredibly talented Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus in what is sure to be a memorable performance this weekend in Dayton. The tantalizing Center Stage: A Broadway Revue will feature a large variety of pieces including selections from Kinky Boots, Wicked, Tommy, South Pacific and more. According to Kathy Clark, artistic director of The Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus, the show will also include a five-piece band.

Holliday has been a beloved household name since her stunning debut performance in Dream Girls in 1982, which not only earned her a Tony Award for best lead actress in a musical and a Grammy Award for best female performance, but also earned both the 1982 Theater Award for Outstanding Debut and The 1982 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical.

Says General Manager Randall Grass of Shanachie Entertainment/Euphoric Records, “Jennifer Holliday is one of the greatest voices of our time.”

Her latest album, The Song Is You, released January 2014 is her first label release in 23 years and is perhaps the best representation of her artistic vision and a gorgeous expression of her incredible talent. Equal to her unique and powerful artistry is her deep and moving sincerity and genuine concern for others, evidenced by her heartfelt tributes to both Whitney Houston (“The One You Used to be”) and to Marvin Hamlish (“Nobody Does It Better”). Her tributes, however, are only a small glimpse of the star’s generosity and devotion to humanitarian causes. From The Human Rights Campaign and The Suicide Prevention Network, to the Special Olympics, The Lupus Foundation and Youth Inc., among many others, Holliday has spent decades helping others in her own special way. In fact, in 2007, she founded the Achieving the Dream Artistic Scholarship Fund to help budding artists. It’s no wonder the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus is so excited to have her perform with them. Shared is their desire to promote and encourage diversity and their passion for vocal excellence.

Of course, there is also something to be said for the enchanting vocals of an all-male chorus. From the deep bass undertones to the flawless pallet of melodious tones, it’s easy to become mesmerized listening to their performance. Add stunning choreography and tantalizing variety of musical pieces, and you get a good representation of The Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus. Now in its 12th year, the chorus was founded in 2003 by Fred Poland, who not only secured a 501(C) 3 nonprofit status for the group, but was instrumental in developing the governing structure and standards for the chorus to follow. His vision of bringing the community together and raising awareness of beauty and the importance of diversity has become the cornerstone of the chorus whose mission is “To achieve choral excellence while maintaining a strong gay affirming presence in the Greater Miami Valley.”

“There is a big thirst for community theater and our group responds to that very well,” Clark says.

And the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Starting out with only 15 members, the chorus now boasts 40 singing members. With an audience that is growing every year and an ever-increasing list of stellar reviews, the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus is very quickly setting a standard of excellence the rest of the country may soon find hard to follow. In fact, they were honored last year with the opportunity to debut I Am Harvey Milk before it appeared on the New York scene—a rare event indeed.

The Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus is a truly important and complimentary part of the Dayton community. Besides the breathtaking artistry and talent of the members, what they teach and inspire in everyone who sees them is perhaps the most valuable piece of all. The beauty of acceptance and tolerance of others and the glowing diversity that makes our community so valuable shines with every song they sing.

The Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus will present Centerstage: A Broadway Review Saturday, June 6 at 8 p.m. at the Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St. For more information about the show or to learn more about Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus, please visit daytongaymenschorus.org or call 937.530.0642.

Reach DCP freelance writer Lisa Bennett at LisaBennett@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Lisa Bennett at LisaBennett@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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