This Pride Month, Voices of Note will be hosting two shows spanning from a fun Broadway extravaganza to a more serious look at religion and spirituality.
On June 3, the Atlanta Women’s Chorus will perform Tell Your Story. The show, which was originally supposed to be held in 2020, works much better now, AWC Artistic Director Melissa Arasi told Georgia Voice.
“We planned this show for the June concert of 2020, and that kinda didn’t happen,” she said. “It wasn’t exactly the right time to do it; we were going to do it last year, and we were exhausted … It was really great that we [stepped back] because we revamped a few things, and I think it’s a more fun time than it was a year ago for people to enjoy something like this.”
This all-Broadway show will include fan favorite songs and deep cuts, all that tell a story. It will be a fun tribute to the high-energy joy and drama of Broadway while still honoring the mission of AWC.
“This really centers on stories,” Arasi said. “We selected songs that were really specific stories that oftentimes speak to us as individuals, or the LGBTQ community. We’re singing ‘Make Them Hear You’ [from ‘Ragtime’]. That obviously talks about racism. While there’s joy and Broadway fun to it, it also has a mission-related piece where we look at the things that mean a lot to us. We can’t seem to get away from that. The AWC is really focused on the things that speak to our hearts and how we’re connected to this community we’re in.”
One of the ideals that is at the heart of AWC is inclusion.
“I have a singer who’s moving to Cincinnati … Last night, we found out it was her last rehearsal,” Arasi said. “She was crying and upset, and she said, ‘What we have here is so special. I’ve never experienced it in any group I’ve sung in. It’s a sense of community and a real support mechanism that’s not just about the music.’ We’ve created that bond by being so welcoming of anyone who can sing these vocal parts.”
“We’ve kept the name Atlanta Women’s Chorus, but we have several nonbinary members,” she added. “We say we’re singers and siblings of the AGMC instead of sisters … We still have women’s issues that we want to support and that are important to the chorus. When we do auditions, anyone that can sing the parts that can support women’s issues are welcome. That opens the door to be more inclusive.”
Tell Your Story will “run the gamut” of Broadway tunes. The first half will start with “Without a Song” from 1929’s Great Day, followed by “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat” (Guys and Dolls), “Somewhere” (West Side Story), “What I Did For Love” (A Chorus Line), “I Dreamed a Dream” (Les Miserables), and “Make Them Hear You,” and then end with “I’ll Cover You” from RENT.
The second half kicks off with a fun, choreographed rendition of “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray, followed up by “Popular” (Wicked), “I Believe” (Spring Awakening), “She Used to Be Mine” (Waitress), “Unruly Heart” (The Prom), and “You Will Be Found” (Dear Evan Hansen). The show closes out with “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” from “Hamilton.”
“I think everyone will love this show,” Arasi said. “We’ll be staging quite a few things with some movement, and between the soloists and having a rhythm section going, it’s going to be a moving, fun concert.”
Later that month, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus will perform “Returning to the Root” on June 9 and 10. For the LGBTQ community, religion has been used as a cudgel to shame, resulting in lasting pain and division from other communities. But if one moves past the way people have misused religion, the core of every major religion is trying to teach the same things — how to be good to each other in this world; how to love all people; and how to create peace. The show is a tribute to that golden rule, focusing on the concept of loving relationships between people within a sacred context.
The concept for the show stems from Rabbi Shmuel Hanagid, who was not only the most influential Jew and Talmudic scholar living in Muslim Spain in the 11th century, but also wrote a great deal of homoerotic poetry. Text from two of his love poems will be performed during the show’s second act.
Other songs include “The Golden Rule” by Wayland Rogers; “Returning to the Root” by Joshua Rist; “La Vie Boheme” and “Seasons of Love” from RENT; “The Greatest Gift” by Sufjan Stevens; “Raise You Up/Just Be” from Kinky Boots; and more.
Tell Your Story will be on June 3 at 2 and 7pm at Lassiter Concert Hall. Returning to the Root will be on June 9 at 7:30pm at Atlanta City Hall and June 10 at 7:30pm at Conant Performing Arts Center. For tickets, visit voicesofnote.org.