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Bits & Bytes
Men's Chorus opens holidays with Judy Collins, Trio Mediaeval, Hanky Panky Holidaze Cabaret, & Privates of the Caribbean
by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

The 2007 holiday season is off and running. Holiday concerts, touring musicals, 401 productions of A Christmas Carol, a local "holidaze" cabaret, majestic music at the Seattle Symphony and Tiny Tots On Parade at the Nutcracker at PNB - the holiday season has arrived. Read on:

SEATTLE MEN'S CHORUS HOSTS LEGENDARY JUDY COLLINS FOR SUNDAY ONLY CONCERT

The subtitle tells it all: The Seattle Men's Chorus' annual December concerts for this year are titled Home For The Holidays but subtitled "With Hokum W. Jeebs." Be prepared for merriment of all types.

While the opening night concert this Sunday, December 2, features the legendary Judy Collins in a welcome Seattle return, the basic concerts continue through the holiday season with additional performances December 9, 21, 22 and 23. Everett audiences get a preview of the concert with a Saturday night performance tomorrow. Tacoma and South Sound audiences can catch the SMC in two concerts on December 8.

All Seattle performances are at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle, best known as the home of the Seattle Symphony. Program information and ticket details are available at 388-1400. Full details next week - watch this space. SMC's yearly holiday concerts are the entertainment event for many members of Seattle's GLBT community. Check it out.

TRIO MEDIAEVAL VISITS TOWN HALL TONIGHT FOR HOLIDAY CONCERT

The Early Music Guild, nationally celebrated for its outstanding programming for Seattle audiences, hosts the Trio Mediaeval tonight, November 30, for a concert at Town Hall, the beautifully restored concert hall at 8th and Seneca on Seattle's First Hill.

The Norwegian vocal trio of three women returns to the Emerald City for its first concert since its Early Music Guild debut in 2006. While the trio started its American visits billed in comparison to Anonymous 4, recent CD releases show clear departures from early recordings and concerts that featured only medieval music.

The Trio now includes medieval ballads plus Norwegian folk songs and contemporary music inspired by ancient modes and models. The group's latest release, Folksongs, investigates its Scandinavian roots with "a powerful and compelling account" of Norwegian folk songs. The CD has not left this scribe's player for the last two weeks. Can't wait for tonight's concert, a "holiday concert" that will include material from all areas of the Trio's diverse repertoire.

There is free pre-lecture at 7 p.m. for ticketholders. Ticket information at 325-7066.

KNIGHTS OF MALTA SCORE WITH RIOTOUS PRIVATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

A "good time was had by all" last Saturday when the Knights of Malta's annual La Turkeyotta invaded Neighbour's for a spirited musical outing, Privates of the Caribbean. The annual Thanksgiving-season fundraiser by Seattle's Jet Chapter of the Knights Of Malta, a GLBT service organization, raised "a lot of money" for various charities and gave Seattle's GLBT community a night to gather and "laugh a lot," as one of the trio of friends at this scribe's table noted.

The modest $5 admission fee made the show accessible for virtually everyone. A pre-performance series of spotlight acts showcased a number of Seattle's reigning and past Court members. Asia, Olympia 34, was in top form. And Rosita, a favorite of this writer, stopped the show with "Ring Them Bells," a Liza Minnelli classic that has not aged one bit (much like the ever-glamorous Rosita).

Privates of the Caribbean unfurled at a leisurely pace - all 21 scenes - with a rambling plot and endless tongue-in-cheek puns, mostly hilarious, mostly bad. Faster than you could say Johnny Depp, these Privates (nudge, nudge) pranced across the stage, often looking for corporal punishment (or was that Corporal Punishment?) and ended up with Peter Pan, the whole Darling clan and, of course, Tinkerbell. The show ended with a rousing "It's Tough To Be A Fairy" with Tinkerbell "finding her peter" (in this case, her Peter).

As usual, much of the fun came from seeing friends (and former and future tricks) swish and swashbuckle around the stage in outrageous costumes. Audience comments, like "Isn't Fugi just too cute in those shorts," added to the fun of the evening. (And, to be honest, he was!)

Gary Sixsmith, who has directed most ("but not all") of KofM's Turkeyotta outings, swears "this will be my last." Bits&Bytes doubts it. He clearly has way too much fun.

The next major event of the Knight's fundraising calendar is the January 26 Beggar's Feast. Watch this space for details.

CREPE/CABARET DE PARIS HOSTS DIVERSE HARMONY, HANKY PANKY HOLIDAZE

Crepe de Paris hosts a two-night benefit for Diverse Harmony, the Seattle Gay and Straight Alliance youth choir with a final performance tonight. Then, starting Saturday night, comes a full month of Hanky Panky Holidaze with some of Bits&Bytes' favorite performers. Tickets to the provocatively titled holiday/holidaze revue are nearly sold out for more than half the run. Plan ahead.

Ticket details and full information at 623-4111. As is usual for the Crepe's cabaret series, shows are offered as a "dinner theater" package (with special pricing the first two weekends) or "show only" seating as available. Holidaze continues through December 24 - what a Christmas Eve outing that would be.

OLYMPIA PLAYHOUSE STAGES HOLIDAY SHOW, 1940's RADIO HOUR

The Capital Playhouse in downtown Olympia is offering The 1940's Radio Hour for its holiday show. The production continues Wednesday through Saturday evenings with Sunday matinees and special added matinees December 21 and 22. While Olympia is not a regular theatrical excursion for most Seattle-based SGN readers, Bits&Bytes has found each visit to the Playhouse well worth the drive.

As its title suggests, Radio Hour is a recreation of the shows, the stars, and the commercials of the heyday of radio rule, the last decade before television took away the magic of words. A long running series of Big Broadcast recreations at the late (and lamented) Bathhouse Theatre Company created a box office bonanza out of radio nostalgia.

Ticket information (and driving directions) at (360) 943-2744. Should be a fun holiday outing. Like many Seattle theater nuts, this scribe prefers matinees for out-of-town excursions. Check it out.

RUBY BISHOP CONTINUES TO DELIGHT ON MONDAYS AT MARTIN'S OFF MADISON

Ruby Bishop, nearing 87, continues to illustrate the term "Living Legend" with her weekly Monday night outings on the keyboards at Martin's Off Madison.

A devoted fan since hearing her at Thumper's years ago, this scribe tries to make Monday night "Ruby Bishop Night" when he can. A recent visit found Bishop to be in top form.

Martin's Off Madison, Gay-owned and ("primarily") Gay staffed, is a welcoming "piano bar" with live music seven nights a week. Bishop anchors the early week, and her fans often pack the place.

Playing "the songs no one else remembers," Bishop opened the evening with "If I Had You," a welcome revisit of to a long forgotten tune. "Body And Soul" continued the rainy Monday feeling, quickly changed with a lovely "The Sound Of Music."

"Tenderly," "Twilight Time," "I Cover The Waterfront" followed. A spirited vocal outing with "Hard Hearted Hannah" delighted the appreciative crowd.

"Now that I see you like the high class stuff," Bishop quipped as she segued into one of her novelty signature numbers, "Would Jesus Wear A Rolex On His Television Show," always a show-stopping number. ("Your Feets Too Big" is another "must-hear" event in her amazing repertoire. As she humbly acknowledges, "I probably know about 3500 songs, give or take a few.")

It was Back To Basics with "Misty," the Gershwins' "My Sweet Embraceable You," a melancholy "What Kind Of Fool Am I?" A spirited, stride outing with "Up A Lazy River" provided fun contrast to a night of Great American Songbook classics.

Cole Porter's "Begin The Beguine" then brought a Latin flavor to the evening. "What A Wonderful Life" ended the first set, a suitable summation of Bishop's long, long career. An hour into the evening, Bishop had played 20 songs, with a few, perhaps inadvertent, repeats. Bits&Bytes and two great friends slipped out during the intermission, or what Bishop quips is her "liquor-mission."

(Incidentally, the two friends raved about the trio of popular appetizers which seemed new to this scribe on the menu. "Great taste, great value," they echoed, even the next day.)

Bits&Bytes started 2007 with a January Monday night with Ruby Bishop and plans to do the same for 2008. Check it out.

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