Harmony: A Colorado Chorale has something sing about. When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages this past spring, Harmony artistic director William Loper wanted to applaud the wedding bells he heard ringing on the horizon. The result is Hand in Hand, Heart to Heart, a celebration of love in song.
But two weeks ago, when eleven states voted to ban same-sex unions, the community choir was forced to acknowledge the big social-conservative cloud hovering over its grand gala. Although the program was choreographed from the beginning to acknowledge all loving relationships -- gay and straight -- Loper is keenly aware that many members of Harmony's audience will be mourning the fact that the gay community is destined, once again, to be the bridesmaid and not the bride.
"We've always made great music but now we have something to say," Loper says, adding that "anybody who doesn't fit in that particular political box is in danger. This concert is a celebration of all relationships, with the very strong hope that someday the people in the gay and lesbian community won't be viewed as second-class citizens."
Harmony Chorale will perform Hand in Hand, Heart to Heart at 2 and 8 p.m. today at the Gates Concert Hall in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts, 2344 East Iliff Avenue. The evening festivities will also include a matrimony-themed reception and silent auction starting at 6:30 p.m., along with a cash bar and pieces of "commitment cake" sliced up for all. The concert itself will include the fifty-voice mixed choir's rendition of Little Willie John's "Fever," from 1956, Reba McEntire's "Why Haven't I Heard From You" and Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up." During the finale, the audience will be invited to join the chorus on stage as Boulder County Clerk Linda Salas provides a short reading and the commitment-minded are blessed by various representatives of local churches. The show will close with a Hebrew prayer. "Music is a way to empower people and build the bridges of better understanding," Loper points out. "This is our way to enrich and enlighten people, and we have a lot of fun while we're doing it."
Hearts to Godpraises the religious
Some vacations never leave us the same. Jim Lillie has been absorbed with what he calls the "enduring value" of Shaker spirituality ever since he stumbled upon the Hancock Shaker Village in western Massachusetts.
A former actor and Westword theater critic, Lillie is now trying his hand as a playwright; his Hearts to God is having its world premiere at Germinal Stage Denver.
Lillie became intrigued during his travels by a record of early Shaker spirituals sung by Sister Mildred, whose namesake is the protagonist of the play. Her apparition narrates seven decades of Shaker life through nostalgic reminiscences and enacted scenes.
Booted from the Church of England, Mother Ann -- the Joseph Smith of the Shakers -- arrived in America with a small band of ragtag followers that reached a height of 6,000 in the mid-1800s. Known for their shake-your-booty worship, they sought heaven on earth and consecrated all of life to God. Lillie admires their "religious communism," which disavowed property and distributed goods equally, and their simplicity, a challenge to the gimme-gimme greed of Americans.
Lillie, who notes that there's only one true Shaker community left, in Maine, sees himself as an archivist and revivalist: "I want a revival of the heart, a revival of how these people lived and believed. I don't want to see it die off. Too often we turn our backs on things because they're perceived as old-fashioned." Audiences are invited to witness a religious group that, in Lillie's estimation, practiced what they preached and achieved "the fullest measure of devotion."
Hearts to God runs through December 12 at Germinal Stage, 2450 West 44th Avenue; for information, call 303-455-7108. -- Christopher Benson
Roll Over, Beethoven
The Everyone Orchestra prefers rockin' jams to sonatas and concertos. Accordingly, the orchestra's performance tonight at the Boulder Theater will bring together some of the top musicians in the jam-band scene for a one-time-only show.
"This is not a band; this is an event," says founder Matt Butler. "When you get incredible players together and get them on the same page, you get an incredible show."
About a dozen musicians, including Michael Travis (drums) of the String Cheese Incident and Peter Apfelbaum (horns, piano, percussion) of the Trey Anastasio Band unite under one conductor in true orchestral form to produce a sound that is "totally eclectic," says Butler. The conductor will lead the audience as well, coaxing certain noises at certain times. "The interaction with the conductor and musicians, and also with the audience and everyone on stage, is unique to this show," Butler adds.
The 21-and-over concert starts at 8:30 p.m. at the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street in Boulder. Tickets are $15 and available at www.bouldertheater.com or by calling 303-786-7030. All proceeds go to the Conscious Alliance, a national non-profit organization that will also hold a toy drive at the event. -- Richard Kellerhals
Peeru Gunto reworks an epic
It's not that Ibsen's folkloric hero, Peer Gynt, didn't already lead a picaresque adventure of a life as he traveled from Norway to China and Africa -- glad-handing trolls, leaving various women behind, getting rich as a slave trader, and all the while seeking the meaning of life. But why not reset the whole play-poem in nineteenth-century Japan, where the hero, renamed Peeru Gunto, sets off to make his fortune in the wild American West during the Gold Rush?
That's exactly what Cecilia Pang, an assistant drama professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, did in her Kabuki-style adaptation, an eyeful of a staging that includes Japanese music, dance, puppets and breathtaking, larger-than-life costumery to make Ibsen's point all over again, from an Eastern perspective. But nothing's really changed: Peeru still finds the truth right back where he started from.
The CU-Boulder Department of Theatre and Dance presents Pang's stylish remake of Peer Gynt beginning tonight at 8 p.m., on campus at the University Theatre Mainstage, in the Theatre and Dance Building; performances continue through December 5, with a one-week break for Thanksgiving. For tickets, $12 to $15, call 303-492-8181 or log on to www.colorado.edu/TheatreDance. -- Susan Froyd