BWW Review: The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Presents QUEENS at The Sydney Goldstein Theater

The 42-year history of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus directly mirrors that of the Gay Movement and makes this very special homage to the queens that moved us forward even more poignant. Walking in the heels of powerful activists, the Chorus provides a musical review of significant events and brave queers who took the stands that provide us the freedoms we often take for granted today. From the mid-60's to the present, Queens lends us the links to the past that must always be remembered lest we lose our collective identity.

Opening with the Simon and Garfunkel anthem to the inability to communicate. "The Sounds of Silence" is a wake-up call to the burgeoning struggle for LGBTQ rights that occurred concurrently with the rise of the anti-Viet Nam War and civil rights movements. A standing ovation greeted Reverend Cecil Williams, a six decade champion of civil rights and good friend of the LGBTQ community in San Francisco. Labi Siffre's "Something Inside So Strong" is a bold, necessary stand against oppression, its opening lyrics - "The higher you build your barriers, the taller I become, the further you take my rights away, the faster I will run", an opening salvo in the fights to come.

SFGMC always adds elements of humor to its shows, and "Drama Queen", about a baby born with a 'drama' defect and the cowgirl inspired "Drag Queens in the Sky" help balance the solemnity. "You Will Be Found", from Dear Evan Hansen, speaks to the isolated and lonely in our community, telling them that they are not alone and are part of a greater whole. Kylie Minono led the chorus in "This Is Me", an anthem condemning bullying from The Greatest Showman. Donna Satchet, considered the 'First Lady' of San Francisco for her years of charitable work joined the chorus for the self-defining "I Am Who I Am".

A tribute to San Francisco's own queen of disco and soul Sylvester with his huge mega-hit "You Make Me Feel" opened the second act. Andrew Lippa's "Sticks and Stones" from the musical I Am Harvey Milk features the derogatory and hateful slurs the LGBTQ community has endured for decades set to a modified version of the old rhyme. Sister Roma and Sister Phyllis With-Litaday made appearances on behalf the charity-raising Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Sister Phyllis, in full nun drag, sang a rousing rendition of "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's The Barber of Seville. Lady Gaga was represented with her "Angel Down", a haunting story of murdered transsexuals including a beautiful modern dance by Jeffrey Van Sciver.

Queens is the SFGMC's gift to Pride by an organization that, like our community is as diverse, proud and creative as the rainbow. It's had its shares of great triumphs as well as sorrow, painfully illustrated during the listing of the 300 chorus members who are no longer here. SFGMC is a microcosm of the LGBTQ community and always represents our creative spirit well.

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