On June 9 and 10, Aria Women’s Choir, led by Dr. Sean Boulware, presented the second concert in their “Diva” series, “Divagain,” at the New Wharf Theatre in Monterey. The show consisted of heart-felt and entertaining renditions of songs from musicals such as Hello Dolly, Funny Girl, Into The Woods, Annie, Rent, Mame, Waitress, West Side Story, The Fantastiks, A Chorus Line, and 9 to 5 The Musical, among others. Many of the numbers were lightly choreographed, and the singers were bedecked in eye-catching sparkle and/or sequin dresses. In a contrast other choral concerts, the highly orchestrated accompaniment was canned. Throughout the concert, some of the singers used sheet music while others used iPads, though some had their music memorized.
A few highlights included:
• The concert opened with a strong start with the bouncy tune “Forget About The Boy” from Thoroughly Modern Millie, and featured Michelle Boulware, who was in fine voice, as usual.
• “Cockeyed Optimist” used a beach towel and an inflatable palm tree to convey a scene from South Pacific. The tune includes the memorable and hopeful line, “They say the human race, is falling on its face, and hasn’t very far to go. But every whippoorwill, is selling me a bill, telling me it just ain’t so!”
• Two numbers from the 2006 Tony Award-winning rock musical Spring Awakening, “Mama Who Bore Me” and “The Song of Purple Summer”
• Classically-trained soprano Anna Hallock sang the aria Deh vieni non tardar from Mozart’s opera Le nozze di Figaro.
• Guest star Taylor Perez Rhoades, a voice student at New York University, who contributed the tune, “No One Else” from the relatively new Broadway musical, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, a through-composed “electropop opera” based on Volume 2, Part 5 of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
• A particularly comedic number, “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees, took an unexpected turn when the three seductresses from the choral group came to fetch three unsuspecting gentlemen from the audience to bring to the stage to serenade. The hapless fellows were made to sit while each black and red garbed gal flaunted her red-feathered boa at him, shimmying up against, circling his chair, tickling heads, faces, and ears, singing all the while, “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets, And little man, little Lola wants you. Make up your mind to have, no regrets, Recline yourself, resign yourself you’re through! I always get, what I aim for, And your heart and soul, is what I came for!…Take off your coat, Don’t you know you can’t win? You’re no exception to the rule, I’m irresistible, you fool, give in!…Give in!…Give in!” It is not often that you see red-faced grown-men giggle.
• “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago began the second half. The line-up was six jaded broads singing from their prison cell block about how each in turn had murdered her man, and why. Reasons ranging from adultery to smacking gum, after each story the chorus rang, “He had it coming, he had it coming, He only had himself to blame, If you’d have been there, if you’d have seen it, I betcha you would have done the same.” The number featured Michelle Boulware, Abby Warbug, Naomi Ruppel, Anna Hallock, Megan Root, and Jenna DeDominici, and was choreographed by Rhoades.
• “Audition,” also known as “The Fools Who Dream,” from the movie LaLa Land was sung in a clean, storytelling style by Kristi Reimers. “A bit of madness is key, To give us new colors to see, Who knows where it will lead us? And that’s why they need us, So bring on the rebels, The ripples from pebbles, The painters, and poets, and plays. Here’s to the ones who dream, Foolish as they may seem, Here’s to the hearts that ache, Here’s to the mess we make.”
Don’t miss the next “Diva” concert, which is rumored to be titled, “Once, Twice, Three Times A Diva.”