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Seattle Men's Chorus: Loud and proud

A swellegant holiday spectacular at Tacoma's Pantages Theater

Who better to highlight all of the campy, fun and ... well ... gay apparel they have to wear during the holiday season than Seattle Men's Chorus. Courtesy photo

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Did you know Seattle boasts one of the largest community choruses in America? Did you know that justly revered group is making its way south to Tacoma this week? Better recognize! The Seattle Men's Chorus is celebrating its 35th season, so all 300-plus members are dressed up with someplace to go. The organization has hosted such Broadway superstars as Kristin Chenoweth, Megan Hilty and Debbie Reynolds. Now its members are stars in their own right, performing for over 30,000 people a year. That's not even counting the two and a half million people who watched their Cole Porter special Swellegant Elegance on PBS. It's estimated that one out of every six TVs in the Pacific Northwest was tuned to their 1990 telecast, Radio Craze. Not to put too fine a point on it, these guys are the most successful gay men's chorus on the face of the earth. They've remained out and proud since their debut in 1979, standing tall as a united "voice for acceptance" both here and abroad.

Even better, their concerts are about more than evocative musical favorites or even social progressivism. We're talking full-scale productions here: think Radio City Music Hall, minus the Rockettes. And they're funny! Alongside such heartwarming Yuletide classics as "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" and "Silver Bells," the cast performs skits and comedic songs. A subset of the chorus, dubbed "Captain Smartypants," specializes in cabaret-style comedy. Among other credentials, that group opened for Margaret Cho's Notorious C.H.O. set in 2002, so they're kind of a big deal.

We audience members have our own part to play. We're encouraged to wear our campiest holiday sweaters, and that's usually good for a few extra laughs. You'll be moved and amused, inspired and vastly entertained. And what more could anyone want from a holiday spectacular? It's fun for the whole family, even that uncle who, let's say, never quite got with the gay-friendly vibe of the 21st century. (You know the one.) You might even catch him dancing in his seat, but play it cool. He gets embarrassed so easily, and there's no sense antagonizing him now. Baby steps.

One question, though: did it really take the Seattle Men's Chorus 35 years to come up with the show title Our Gay Apparel? That seems hard to believe.

...OUR GAY APPAREL, 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, Pantages Theater, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, 901 Broadway, Tacoma, $19-$69, 253.591.5890

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