The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles is like totally reliving the ‘80s this weekend, performing a mishmash of the decades’ biggest hits to end its 2010-2011 season.
“Totally! Our ‘80s Show” will feature video clips, dance scenes choreographed by Ray Leeper and several well-known songs of the era that also hold significance to the LGBT community.
Some songs such as Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun will touch on the light-hearted fun of the '80s – neon colors, big hair, shoulder pads and all.
Guest conductor Andres Cladera, an award-winning conductor and artistic director of theRenaissance City Choirs in Pittsburgh, says this gig is out of his usual conducting realm and finds the challenge a positive one.
“I mainly tend to focus on choral work in opera…never an entire show focused on an era,” Cladera said. “It’s a great endeavor and one of the most valuable things for me are some of these songs. The show overall is a merge of great choral sound and music.”
Cladera said some songs in the program are an introspective look at the decade and will sound different than their original, such as the chorus performing a more mellow and hushed version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
“We look at those words as not as just an entertaining song but as beautiful text,” Cladera said. “For example, the first few words of Thriller are 'It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark.' It explains the beginning of the '80s, the beginning of AIDs and how it affected the LGBT community.”
The chorus and Cladera worked closely together to share ideas on music selection and he soon learned just how impactful the 1980s were to many members.
“I have heard so many singers say that during the ‘80s and the AIDs epidemic, they lost close friends and about 50 percent of the chorus. The show has a seriousness to it. It's celebrating fun and energetic music and it is a very historical aspect of the LGBT community – tying in the mission of the organization.”
The chorus is well known for promoting civil rights, tolerance and acceptance through music.
Cladera noted that the show and the songs within it have aspects that are pertinent to the 21st century.
“Its really great, pertinent music,” he said. “It's reliving a great area and looking forward…how can we take this text and make it meaningful to us now?”
The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles will perform "Totally! Our '80s Show," on Saturday July 9 from 5-8 pm, and Sunday, July 10 from 3-7pm, at Avalon Hollywood. Tickets are $15-55
Avalon Hollywood, 1735 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA 90028. For tickets and information, please call (800) MEN-SING (800-636-7464), or visit www.gmcla.org.