It’s always exciting hearing the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus singing en masse but it’s equally enjoyable when members of the group sing solo parts. Sixteen singers will get their chance to solo at “Let’s Do It!,” a Winter Cabaret on Saturday, March 8 at Mayslake Peabody Estate.
“It’s all music of three composers — Cole Porter, Stephen Schwartz and Elton John,” said Artistic Director Patrick Sinozich. The 16 soloists were selected through an audition process that was open to any member of the group.
“We started with the idea of Cole Porter, who is sort of an obvious choice for a cabaret evening,” Sinozich said. “They’re doing some of the classics like, ‘Let’s Do It’ — that’s where the name of the show comes from — ’Let’s Misbehave’ and ‘You’ve Got That Thing.’ And a small group of them are going to do an obscure number by Cole Porter called, ‘Most Gentlemen Don’t Like Love,’ that starts out with a cynical approach to the concept of love.”
Stephen Schwartz selections are primarily from his musicals. Those include, “I’m Not That Girl” from “Wicked” and “In Whatever Time We Have” from “Children of Eden.”
Elton John numbers include “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues.”
Sinozich noted that they conceived the cabaret idea last year. “The original reason for doing it came from the fact that it was our 30th anniversary,” he said. “We wanted to come up with some ways to celebrate chorus members and celebrate the history of the chorus. It was so successful that we decided to continue. We’ve added these cabaret shows, one in the winter and one in the summer, to our series of events. We’re looking to expand how we express ourselves.”
Soloist Ken Puttbach is in his 15th season with the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. Puttbach, who has a theater degree in production management, joked that, “I know how to be in front of the curtain and behind the curtain.” When he’s not singing with the chorus, Puttbach is busy as owner of a floral design business and a gift shop.
Puttbach’s solo is “You’ve Got That Thing.” “It’s a really cute piece and the lyrics are always fun with Cole Porter, so I’m excited to be doing that,” he said.
He will join the group in the opening number, “Most Gentlemen Don’t Like Love,” and in the finale.
This is the third cabaret the group has performed and Puttbach has been in all of them. “It’s fun to do a solo, especially in a cabaret setting because you have a little bit of freedom to play with it and make it your own,” he said.
This is Michael Kirby’s 10th year with the chorus. “I’ve always been a singer,” Kirby said. He discovered the group a year after he moved to Chicago.”I was looking for a way to both engage in the LGBT community in Chicago and get to sing as well,” he explained.
Kirby, who used to be an attorney, is now a Presbyterian minister.
Kirby will perform the opening solo in the show, Cole Porter’s “I Hate Men” from “Kiss Me Kate.” “It’s very much a tongue-in-cheek comic number,” he said. “I think I’m the oldest singer in the show and comedy songs are what I do in the chorus a lot of the time.”
Kirby revealed, “I went straight from boy’s soprano to bass and I’ve always been very jealous of the first tenors and their ability to sing so high but I love it when we can harmonize. And Patrick (Sinozich) has written some beautiful arrangements in the group numbers for the show.”