Arts and Entertainment

In Bremerton | Seattle Men's Chorus gives 'camp' a latin beat

Seattle Men
Seattle Men's Chorus will take the stage at Bremerton's Admiral Theatre this Saturdy, April 17.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For what’s billed as a chorus concert, the words ‘chorus’ and ‘concert’ sure come up short. Really, an evening with the Seattle Men’s Chorus is “more like going to a Broadway show than it is to a symphony concert,” said artistic director Dennis Coleman.

It’s a little more flashy — more “Glee,” if you will, he added. The group’s performance style is reason in part it’s become the largest gay men’s chorus in the world, and they’ll bring that style to the Admiral Theatre stage in downtown Bremerton this weekend.

More than 200 members of the Seattle Men’s Chorus will take to the risers, singing “Olé! Olé! Olé!,” a variety of Latin music, including Mexican and Spanish folk songs, Broadway tunes and salsa. The group performs five concert series each year, in halls both in and around the Seattle area, from Benaroya to McCaw.

Their Kitsap performance benefits Kitsap Pride, a community network formed in 2007.

Since just after its 1979 inception, the Seattle Men’s Chorus has been putting its own stamp on classic programs, ushering in a kind of tributary celebration of song that’s rocketed in popularity in the last year or so, Coleman explained.

“About 30 years ago, we began to use the theater arts, such as set design, lighting design, costume and dance, in a choral music setting, which is unusual,” Coleman said. “We really broke away.”

The chorus has since performed for an estimated cumulative audience of 2.5 million, and has released 15 CDs in the last 20 years.

Their show at the Admiral will be unique, in that the small setting creates a more intimate concert experience. Tickets for the show also run roughly $20 less than those sold for the same set of songs in Seattle.

The repertoire includes some beloved radio hits, including songs from Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Selena and Jennifer Lopez. Dancers will perform an Aztecan dance and traditional wedding dance, among others, to instrumentals from an accompanying band.

Then there’s that Seattle Men’s stamp, the visual spectacle and humor laced into their lineup.

“Our art form is called camp. It’s a distinctly gay art form,” Coleman said.

Many of the chorus members are professional musicians, and they all have day jobs outside the chorus.

“Olé! Olé! Olé!” allowed the chorus to reach into the Seattle community, collaborating with various Latin groups to create a show Coleman says is no good for sitting still.

“I can’t hold still when this music is going on,” he said. “Even in the conductor’s podium I’m bouncing around.”

“Olé! Olé! Olé!” is appropriate for all ages and runs just over two hours, intermission included. To learn more about the Seattle Men’s Chorus, visit www.flyinghouse.org. To learn more about Kitsap Pride, visit kitsappride.org. WU

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