Last April the Island Community Chorus (ICC) selected Brahms’ Requiem for their annual spring concert. This year, the 80-plus-strong chorus is going for something completely different.
The concert, to be presented on Saturday, April 8, and Sunday, April 9, at the Performing Arts Center, is called “The Chorus Takes the Stage,” in reference to the provenance of the 11-song program. Most of the numbers were drawn from musical theater, a couple come from movies, and three are from the opera world. It’s an eclectic mix that ranges from showstoppers — “That’s Entertainment” and “Lullaby of Broadway,” to the jazzy “Ain’t Misbehavin’” by Fats Waller, to the gospel inspired “Walk Him Up the Stairs,” to the powerful and moving “Va pensiero,” or “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves,” from Verdi’s opera “Nabucco.”
To pull the program together, the concert will include brief introductions by Ken Romero, and will also feature appropriate images projected onto a screen as a backdrop to the songs.
Featured singers will include tenor David Behnke and soprano Molly Conole in a duet of “Brindisi” (the “Drinking Song”) from Verdi’s “La Traviata,” Maurice Reidy providing the vocals for the spirited “Ya Got Trouble” from “The Music Man,” Dorian Lopes taking the lead in “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” and Jenny Friedman doing a solo turn in the lovely “Sleepy Man” from a lesser-known 1970s musical called “The Robber Bridegroom.” The inclusion of the latter was inspired by a performance of the song by Patti Lupone in a concert at the PAC last September. Sixteen members of the Island Community Chorus were invited onstage to accompany the Broadway star.
Of the other numbers in the program, about half have been performed by the chorus in previous concerts, while the others are brand-new to their repertoire.
To help the chorus members with the Italian in the two Verdi pieces, musical director Peter Boak brought in Niki Patton, a fluent Italian speaker, as a diction coach. Longtime ICC accompanist Garrett Brown will be joined at the piano by his brother Wesley for the concert’s finale, a song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers.”
“It’s been a really fun program to put together,” said music director Peter Boak in a telephone interview.
The show is not a total departure for the chorus. Six years ago, the group presented a full concert version of “The Music Man,” to the delight of Island audiences. “Garrett said, ‘Let’s do another Broadway show this year,’” said Mr. Boak. “That seemed a bit challenging. It was a lot of work last time, so I decided that we could at least do something that pays tribute to show business.” The program is a lively one, punctuated by some surprises, but primarily a compilation of songs that audience members will be familiar with. Singing along is welcome.
The Island Community Chorus presents “The Chorus Takes the Stage,” directed by Peter Boak with accompaniment by Garrett Brown on piano. Two shows: 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 8, and 3 pm on Sunday, April 9, at the Performing Arts Center of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. Suggested donation is $15 at the door.