In a quietly significant way, the performance at the Millett Opera House was historic.
As attorney and history advocate Laura Fowler pointed out during her opening remarks before the “Journey Home” benefit show for Capital City Men’s Chorus, no large-scale concert had been performed in what is now the Austin Club for more than 130 years.
But there they were: More than 100 men who sang alone or together for a two-act cabaret after dinner. Now understand, the original stage at the opera house on East Ninth Street is long gone, but the chorus for gay men and their allies made do with platforms on the north end of the second floor banquet hall.
They sang show tunes, pop songs and gospel numbers, but to my surprise, among the most effective were selections, not written for choirs, but arranged gloriously for large ensembles of tenors, baritones and basses. I include among these a reworking of James Taylor and Don Grolnick’s “Lonesome Road” and Charles Small’s “Home” from the musical “The Wiz.”
It would be unfair to single out any of the solo performances, but we must laude yet another vaudeville-style turn from talented City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan — recall that he nearly stole the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards ceremony last year with his civic proclamation set to a tune from “Hamilton.”
All hail artistic director Daniel Arredondo for bending this quite disparate musical material to his voices and this grand old space, now under the protection of the Foundation for the Preservation of Millett Opera House and re-consecrated to the glory of history and the arts.
And don’t forget that the Chorus will perform Andrew Lippa’s musical journey through 120 years of LGBTQ history for the Austin premiere of “Unbreakable,” May 18-19 at UT’s Bates Recital Hall.