Gay entertainment has had no problem embracing full-frontal nudity in the pursuit of artistic expression. Who could blame anyone for thinking that Robert Seeley’s choral composition, NakedMan, was continuing that tradition?
Well, they would be wrong. You should not confuse NakedMan for 10 Naked Men, the similarly named play running concurrently and offering plenty of buffed flesh.
NakedMan is a one-night only affair on June 4 — one of three annual concerts presented by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. For this performance, the GMCW will be joined by the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, and together these two choruses, under the artistic direction of GMCW’s Jeff Buhrman, will sing the stories culled from interviews with members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and transformed into a song cycled by Seeley in 1996.
”NakedMan is perhaps the most popular and relevant work from the whole gay and lesbian choral movement,” says Buhrman. ”It’s approaching its 10th anniversary, and choruses are starting to take a look at it again.”
The same can be said of audiences. Buhrman says that those who have seen NakedMan performed in the past — the GMCW performed the piece once before — may perceive the experience a bit differently today. ”We’re all nine years older than we were last time,” he says. ”Gay society is at a different position. When it was first commissioned, we were reeling from the deaths from AIDS. That’s not at the forefront anymore… There’s a lot more healing the second time around.”
According to Buhrman, those unfamiliar with NakedMan are in for something special. ”They can expect soaring melodies and beautiful music. They can expect to see their lives onstage. Coming out, getting married, the losses…. I think what we’ve found nine years later is that NakedMan speaks not just to gay men, but to the human condition. Straight audiences are relating to it. And it’s interesting to see how our twentysomethings find relevance in the piece.”
For those young or old, straight or gay — all those who Buhrman says may find something relevant in NakedMan — who can’t make the June 4 show, there will be a second opportunity. The GMCW will be traveling south to return the favor, performing NakedMan with the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus on that group’s home turf Saturday, June 18.
Could be the perfect excuse to take a Southbound trip.
The GMCW with the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, performs NakedMan on Saturday, June 4, at 8 p.m., at the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Tickets range from $15 to $45. For more information, call 202-293-1548, or visit www.gmcw.org.