With the arrival of spring comes a couple of new concerts by the artists of Chicago Gay Men's Chorus ( CGMC ). After serving as artistic director of the organization for two years, Jimmy Morehead is once again at the helm of another colorful event. This year the group will also perform with some international guest stars.
Windy City Times: Congratulations on your Jeff nomination for directing Kokandy Productions' The Wiz. How did you ever find the time to fit that into your already busy schedule, particularly as artistic director of the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, not to mention all the other demands made of you?
Jimmy Morehead: When I am working on multiple shows at once, it sometimes becomes quite difficult dealing with juggling multiple schedules. However, when all the projects on my calendar are exciting and rewarding, it becomes easy to find the energy to do them all.
WCT: How many years have you been the leader of CGMC?
JM: I've been srtistic firector for two and a half seasons now. Prior to this position, I was the accompanist and assistant conductor for a number of years.
WCT: What inspired you to focus on the music popularized by famous boy bands?
JM: The great variety of boy bands seemed like a perfect show topic for a predominantly male ensemble. Apart from the '90s favorites of the Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men and NSYNC, there will also be songs by previous boy-band generations that paved the way for our current boy bands. This includes some barbershop quartets from the turn of the previous century, as well as the Beach Boys and the Monkees.
WCT: Can you explain how this year's show will be structured? Is there a storyline or is it a musical revue, presented chronologically?
JM: There is a storyline chronicling a group of boys trying to become the first all gay boy band. With their smarmy manager they attempt to find their own sound throughout the show.
WCT: How large is your cast for this show? Did chorus members have to audition for particular songs or roles? Which leading players are being featured, or is the wealth spread evenly among the entire membership?
JM: We have just over 150 singing members for this show. Members were able to audition for singing roles, singing quartets and acting roles. We have two casts and multiple soloists spread across our venues to spread the wealth of featured moments among a larger number of members. We also are featuring over 40 members in dance numbers.
WCT: How have your choral members reacted to this material?
JM: My ensemble has received this music with so much enthusiasm, it's been a great joy to rehearse and prepare for this show.
WCT: What special musical arrangements have you achieved so as to present this show with enough variety?
JM: We are performing almost every song as originally done by each boy band. We have a wonderful choral arrangement of our Beatles tribute song. The variety in the show comes from the wide range the music comes from.
WCT: Please tell me about this joint venture with the London Gay Men's Chorus. This sounds particularly exciting. How did all this come about? Who's going to be involved in this British invasion?
JM: The London Gay Men's Chorus will be joining the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus for a joint concert the week after B-Town. CGMC will present a short smattering from our boy band concert in support of the LGMC's set. We will then conclude the concert with a joint piece. Chicago will be final stop for the LMGC tour, after performing in New York City.
WCT: Why did you choose to perform this concert at three different venues?
JM: This allows our audiences easier access to our concerts. All three venues are now welcoming homes to CGMC, with a wonderful audience base.
"BTown: From Barbershop to Boy bands" will run Friday, May 19, at 8 p.m. at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph St; tickets are $25-$40 and may be purchased at 312-334-7777
It's also running Saturday, May 20, at 8 p.m. at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; tickets are $25-$40 and may be purchased at 847-673-6300. Lastly, it runs Sunday, May 21, at 3 p.m. at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St., Chicago; tickets are $28 and may be purchased at 773-445-0386.
The London Gay Men's Chorus Collaborative Concert is Thursday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. at Ganz Hall within Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave.; tickets are $25 and may be purchased at CGMC.org .
Scott C. Morgan contributed to this article.