Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hart Felt

Hart Felt: Gay Men's Chorus of Washington performs Rodgers and Hart
by Randy Shulman

"Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart left a legacy of over 550 songs, which included eight movies and eight Broadway musicals," says Jeff Buhrman, Artistic Director of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington. "And it's fascinating to see that these songs from the 1920s, '30s and '40s are just as relevant in today's world."

The Gay Men's Chorus will celebrate that lasting legacy over the next few weekends with "Wait 'Til You See Him: An Evening of Rodgers & Hart," an intimate cabaret-style evening of song featuring eight vocalists from the chorus.

"Though Lorenz Hart died sixty years ago, his lyrics speak to our age, our times, and especially to the gay community," says Buhrman, who along with chorus member Chip Crews, culled through hundreds of Rodgers and Hart selections to arrive at the 45 highlights chosen for the evening. The bill includes such popular standards as "My Funny Valentine" and "Bewitched."

"Many of the songs, even the classics, are not as well known as Rodgers and Hammerstein songs," says Buhrman, "But they couldn't be any more different. Hammerstein is a sentimentalist. His songs are filled with optimism and wholesome living. His lyrics epitomize romantic love. Hart is sardonic and sentimental at the same time."

Hammerstein's musical style adapted to Hart's lyrics, says Buhrman. "For people who just know Rodgers as half of Rodgers and Hammerstein, it's important to understand that the man was essentially two extremely different and extraordinary composers. Writing with Hart there was a beautiful simplicity to the melodies he composed."

The cabaret is framed around love, from the gay male perspective. Virtually every category is covered, says Buhrman, "from the couple who have been together for fifteen years to the single man on the make to the twentysomething newlyweds to the confirmed pessimist."

Photo by Todd Franson

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