Friday, April 2, 2010

Gay Men's Chorus - Grease

"Grease - The musical you know and love. Only gayer." With an advertisement like that, how could we NOT buy tickets for the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC's production of the original high school musical?

Some may remember the debut of Grease on Broadway in 1971. Some may remember the original release of the movie in 1978. Others might have first been exposed to Grease via cable TV or VHS. And some may remember the movie's re-release in 1998. I'm part of the latter two categories. I fondly remember going to the theater with a large group of friends and doing the hand jive and Greased Lightning choreography in our seats. Maybe it was just my group of friends or maybe it was something L.A. kids do, I don't know... but it was fun.

Fast forward to the present. We didn't quite know what to expect when we arrived at the Lisner Auditorium at GW. The house was packed for the Saturday evening show with a... how do you say this... predictable demographic. Squeezing into Lisner's - let's call them intimate - seats, you could feel the energy in the air (you could also feel the seat in front of you with your knees). So combine this with my past experience, and I was ready for a huge sing-along.

Wrong! Not one hand jive to be seen. Just polite applause. Frankly, I was shocked. Grease isn't exactly a buttoned-up, high brow cultural event. It is meant to be over the top and down-right raunchy. Still, the crowd was reserved.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't disappointed. In fact, the production was rather good. Not surprisingly, the choir's strength was the vocals and weakness was the acting and dancing. Overall, it was a very entertaining night... just no revelry.

So now to the question everyone is wondering... at least the one that we were wondering prior to the performance. How would an all gay male cast treat the traditionally female roles? Would the pink ladies be in drag and treated as heterosexual relationships or would they be the "pinkmen" and portray all homosexual relationships? Those would be the choices, right? I guess not. The pink ladies were still treated as ladies (referred to as gals/chicks/etc., while talking about and grabbing female body parts) but played by men dressed as men. Personally, it made it a bit confusing. I'm hardly the authority on LGBT issues but I wished they went all in and just made Sandy, Rizzo, and the rest fully male characters...

So bottom line. I'd absolutely go see another Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC production, whether theatrical or choral. But I'd probably have to practice my yoga before I can comfortably fit into Lisner again.

J Says

Luckily I'm really short so wasn't bothered by the tiny seats but, like B, was pretty surprised at how reserved the crowd was. The performers on stage were giving it all they had and the audience chuckled at the right places, but there was no hand jiving or even much foot tapping.

Grease is a pretty campy musical to begin with, and the GMC turned the camp factor up to an 11. It was cute, sometimes clumsy, but overall, a really fun evening. I'd love to go to another show and am sad that we'll be out of town during, "Divas: songs and sass from Judy Garland to Lady Gaga." Maybe next time...

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