Entertainment » Music

San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Concludes Its 40th Anniversary Season with 'Unbreakable'

Thursday Jun 7, 2018

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (SFGMC)-under the leadership of Dr. Tim Seelig, Artistic Director and Christopher Verdugo, Executive Director-concludes Season 40: Unstoppable with "Unbreakable," a groundbreaking world premiere work by Tony Award-nominated composer Andrew Lippa ("I Am Harvey Milk," "The Addams Family," "Big Fish," "The Wild Party"), on Friday, June 22 (8 p.m.) and Saturday, June 23 (2:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.) at San Francisco's Nourse Theater (275 Hayes Street). Tickets range in price from $25­-$99 and are available now by visiting www.sfgmc.org or by calling City Box Office at 415-392-4400. The world premiere of "Unbreakable" is presented by San Francisco Toyota.

Starring Andrew Lippa, internationally acclaimed soprano Lisa Vroman, Broadway's Britney Coleman and rising tenor Marcus J. Paige-and backed by the 250-member San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and a 10-piece chamber ensemble-this new musical presents an historical arc to the experiences of LGBTQ people over the last 12 decades, illuminated by four characters drawn from real-life stories from throughout LGBTQ history. These stories include: Jane Adams, the first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 and an open lesbian activist; Lem Billings, JFK's best friend, a closeted gay man seated at the side of the most powerful man on Earth; Sylvia Rivera and the transgender community she nurtured; and AIDS and its impact on a generation. Told in four scenes, the 70-minute work weaves together the themes of awareness and activism and seeks to illuminate decades of setbacks and progress in the United States.

Commissioned by SFGMC member Eddie Reynolds in loving memory of his longtime partner, Ed Jones, "Unbreakable" features direction by Robert Kelley (Artistic Director of Silicon Valley's TheatreWorks), book by Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black ("Milk," "8," "When We Rise,"), orchestrations by Peter Seibert, choreography by Steve Valdez, and multimedia by Andrew Lazarov. "Unbreakable" is produced by Bruce Cohen ("Milk," "When We Rise").

Says Verdugo: "I am honored that Andrew Lippa has, once again, created a monumental world premiere for SFGMC. 'Unbreakable' is a piece that speaks deeply to the LGBT experience and, in many ways, is a road map of our untold history. I can't think of a better way to wrap up our wildly successful Season 40 than by celebrating the rich diversity of the LGBTQ community and commemorating those whose shoulders we stand upon in our ongoing fight for inclusivity, equality and acceptance."

"Among the many commissions SFGMC has done over the years, this is like no other," adds Seelig. "It is an epic view of the LGBTQ journey beginning in 1900 right up to a look at the future. It is a massive undertaking that could not be in more qualified hands than the amazing Andrew Lippa."

"Following up on the worldwide success of 'I Am Harvey Milk' I wanted to tackle something even larger: The 20th Century and the evolution of Gay Rights since 1900," said Andrew Lippa. "Taking my cue from playwright August Wilson who wrote a cycle of 10 plays, each representing a decade in 20th Century America, I was inspired to write 'Unbreakable': A multi-movement work for men's chorus, soloists and orchestra that chronicles, from 1900 to now the gay stories you might not know-the people who suffered and soared, the LGBTQ community and how we evolved, triumphed and yet, still face bakers who won't bake for us, lawmakers who won't make laws for us, conservative minds who won't wake for us. 'Unbreakable' is not only a statement of how we have reacted in the past. It's a statement of how we must go forward."

Seelig continues, "Andrew Lippa has brought an amazing arsenal of musical tools and expressions to the fourteen-movement work. He has been able to capture the feel and sounds of a huge variety of stories. The gamut of emotions has never been broader. You will swell with pride to the story of Jane Addams in the early 20th century, marvel at the courage of those in the 1950's purge, weep at our shared losses in the 1990's, laugh at how we usurped the word 'gay' and cheer as we face the future together. With four amazing lead actors, a spectacular chamber ensemble, 250 singers, breathtaking multi-media, it is going to be epic."

"No one was a bigger supporter of me and my singing in SFGMC than my recently-deceased husband, Ed," says Eddie Reynolds. "When Tim Seelig announced last year the commission with Andrew Lippa to write a major work dealing with gay history for SFGMC's 40th Anniversary, I immediately knew that this was how I wanted to honor Ed's memory. Having worked in theatre for much of his career, he loved new works. He was also a huge reader and researcher of gay history and had completed a booklet on 100 gay, Jewish heroes for our annual Passover Seder. I look forward to performing this special work with my chorus brothers and know that Ed will be in the audience watching us!"

For additional information on the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and "Unbreakable," visit: www.sfgmc.org.

About San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus

For 40 years, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus has courageously served as the international standard bearer for a powerful and accomplished mix of high-caliber performance, human rights, community activism, empowerment and inclusiveness, establishing it as an icon among LGBT organizations. Founded in 1978, it was the first organization of its kind and is credited with starting the LGBT choral movement, galvanizing and changing the course of LGBT history. It continues to rally and inspire other arts-based community organizations around the world. Under the leadership of Artistic Director and Conductor Dr. Timothy Seelig, SFGMC has in recent seasons established a heightened level of performance standards receiving audience and choral acclaim, increased its touring and recording profile and broadened its impact and reputation in the community while maintaining its signature blend of humor, personality and high-voltage performances.

For more information on SFGMC:
Website: www.sfgmc.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/sfgmc
Twitter: www.twitter.com/sfgmc
Instagram: www.instagram.com/sfgmc
YouTube: www.youtube.com/sfgmcvideo


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