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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Seattle Gay News
31 May 2005
CHORUS PREFERS BLONDES
The Seattle Men’s Chorus and the 5th Avenue Musical Theatre joined forces earlier this month for a historic production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the fabled Broadway show that launched the five-decade career of Carol Channing. The 1953 film version, featuring iconic performances from Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, rewrote the labored book of the stage hit but kept the show’s best hits—“Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” “Just A Little Girl From Little Rock,” “Bye, Bye Baby.”
The landmark collaboration offered Blondes as a staged concert, a format used by New York’s wildly successful Encores! series and San Francisco’s beloved 42nd Moon Theatre. Inexplicably, the two groups decided not to invite the press for theatrical reviews—a strange decision considering that this was the launch of a new format with future productions a strong possibility.
For The Record: As a first outing, Blondes was a huge success with much of the loyal Seattle Men’s Chorus subscribers. Broadway’s Faith Prince, a Tony Award winner for her Miss Adelaide in Guys And Dolls (a roll she first played at the Seattle Rep in an earlier production) was a solid Lorelei Lee but clearly need more rehearsal time to make Lorelei’s dumb-blonde routines truly memorable.
Lucy Lawless, star of television’s Xena: Warrior Princess, was a total delight as Dorothy, Lorelei’s sensible sidekick. In a Seattle Times review of Friday’s opening night, Lawless’ vocals were called “strained.” Bits&Bytes caught the show at the Sunday evening closing performance, and Lawless was in great voice and turned in a first class performance. She may have gained strength as the weekend run progressed—or Lawless may have just let loose for the final performance. (The Seattle Times attended because the Times—to reflect “journalistic integrity”—pays full dollar for all of its stage, film, symphony, ballet, sports and travel-related tickets. No other paper in town sees the long-standing traditional of press comps as a questionable practice or a source of a potential conflict of interest.)
While there were many flaws in the production, all in all Blondes was a very successful first staging in a potential series. Hopefully, the next event will give the chorus more to do. And while future Seattle Men’s Chorus collaborations would be great fun, the 5th Avenue shouldn’t overlook other teamings—Song of Norway with the Norwegian Men’s Chorus could pack the house with Ballard-based musical theater fans.