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Smooth palate for a cappella

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‘From Stage and Screen’ River City Men’s Chorus Trinity UMC April 17 The 2-year-old River City Men’s Chorus presented “From Stage and Screen” at Trinity United Methodist Church to an auditorium filled to the brim, even overflowing into the aisles with charmed listeners. The production consisted of pieces hand-picked by conductor David Glaze from some of the finest operas and Broadway musicals, from such disparate roots as Wagner’s 1845 “Tannhauser” to the more easily recognizable songs from “Les Miserables.” Although dressed formally in suits and bowties, the 50-plus choir members seemed as loose and as celebratory as any barbershop quartet on a downtown street corner playing for change. Because of the wide range of selections and the obvious enjoyment of the men, even those who might feel that choir is about as dull or uninteresting as “Pomp and Circumstance” played at a kindergarten graduation couldn’t help but get sucked into the spirit of the occasion. Even with all the slightly intimidating foreign titles staring out from the program, the chorus made pieces like “Hunter’s Chorus” from Carl Maria von Weber’s “Der Freischutz” accessible. Glaze even apologized before the second half of the production began for any rusty accents that might have fallen into their natural Southern twang. For the most part, the chorus maintained a jubilance in their melodies that only seldom slipped their harmonies off-tune. There were a few slumps in the performance, however. The first came at the end of the first part with “Luck Be a Lady” from “Guys and Dolls.” Not to say the song itself can’t be a great time on stage, but when the showboat glamour of the musical is exchanged for a stiff upper lip and perfect pitch, it just loses some of its charm. In general, though, the show was surprisingly involving, especially with such melodies as “Not While I’m Around” from “Sweeney Todd” and the playful whistling and salutes of “We Sail the Ocean Blue.” And although “The Humming Chorus” was not as charged as some of the other selections, it lulled the audience into a sweet slumber with its wordless, gentle air. It’s rare a musical performance such as this not only succeeds with classic favorites, but also introduces you to some entirely new works that could become tunes you’ll find yourself humming right along with. — By Dustin Allen

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