Arts and Entertainment

The rainbow connection

The Seattle Men’s Chorus pays tribute to the iconic Judy Garland in its spring concert. - Courtesy photo
The Seattle Men’s Chorus pays tribute to the iconic Judy Garland in its spring concert.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Chances are that when the teenaged Judy Garland performed in her biggest role, as the innocent, Oz-bound Dorothy, she never imagined she would become an icon for gay men.

Of course it’s the older, boozier nightclub version that is most mimicked by female impersonators, but there is a deep love for the naive girl in gingham as well.

March 25 the Seattle Men’s Chorus brings the full version of its spring concert to the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton, “You Made Me Love You — A Tribute to Judy Garland.” The program is a celebration of the singer and her contributions to America’s songbook and pop culture.

The 300-member chorus has the distinction of being the largest community chorus in America, and the largest gay men’s chorus in the world. Add in the 200 members of the adjunct Seattle Women’s Chorus, and you have the largest choral organization in the state.

Its mission is to “entertain, enlighten, unify and heal our audience and members, using the power of words and music to recognize the value of gay and straight people and their relationships.”

The Judy Garland tribute includes songs such as “The Lady is a Tramp,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.” And oh yes, “Over the Rainbow.”

“As usual, this concert will be an entertainment event bursting with excellent singing and big production numbers,” Dennis Coleman, artistic director, said. “There will be lush orchestration with a full rhythm section, plus brass and reed instruments. And this is also one of our more visual productions, with lots of dancing and costumes.”

In addition to the full chorus, two smaller ensemble groups will perform. Captain Smartypants is described as the “lively, irreverent ensemble,” while Aedonis is a classical ensemble. Its repertoire includes two new arrangements of hits immortalized by Garland.

The Seattle Men’s Chorus has toured nationally, with stops at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, Symphony Hall in Boston and Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

In 1998 the group traveled to Spain, where it performed at the closing ceremonies of the Gay Games in Barcelona, then went on to perform in Amsterdam and London.

The chorus also keeps busy producing recordings, including “Over the Rainbow!” “The Pink Album” and “Bustin’ Out All Over.”

Proceeds from the March 25 concert benefit the Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bremerton and OUTKITSAP.

The mission of the Universalist Fellowship is to “build a liberal religious community of love and justice, enriched by diversity, that nurtures spirituality and inspires us to act on our beliefs.”

OUTKITSAP works to strengthen community, health, equality and pride among Kitsap County’s LGBTQ communities.

The Seattle Men’s Chorus presents “You Made Me Love You — A Tribute to Judy Garland,” 7 p.m. March 25, Admiral Theatre, 515 Pacific Ave., Bremerton.

Tickets are $22 main floor, $20 loge and $15 balcony, available at the box office or by phone at (360) 373-6743.

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