This weekend, Capital City Men’s Chorus will present two performances of Andrew Lippa’s new work Unbreakable. “The goal of Unbreakable is to tell the story of the LGBT history in the United States – the story that hasn’t been told before,” says Paul Halstead, the chairman of the board for the chorus. “It takes themes from the life stories of several characters through history that most of us have never heard of before and it puts those stories to song in a way that’s uplifting and fun and sometimes serious.
“It takes characters like Jane Addams – no one has ever heard of Jane Addams. She was the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and she and her life partner were out and open lesbians for their entire adult lives,” Halstead says. “Bayard Rustin was a leading character in the civil rights movement, but he was never onstage because early in his career he was arrested for being gay. And other stories that are equally powerful.”
“The show itself is sort of oratorical/concert style, so it’s not a traditional musical,” says Dr. Daniel Arredondo, the chorus’ artistic director. “Everyone’s on the stage the whole time, but the way the choreography’s done, the way the staging will be done – it’s exciting, because it does take you through that journey.”
Halstead says that rehearsing Unbreakable has been a bit of an emotional journey for many of the performers. “During the rehearsal process, we’ve been surprised at how much processing the singers have to do because the music is very moving and very emotional to the guys,” he says.
“It takes you on the musical journey of highs and lows and happies and sads,” adds Arredondo.
For the members of the chorus, Unbreakable was the perfect work to present at this time. “This is our thirtieth anniversary,” says Halstead. “and so it’s a perfect time for us as a chorus to look over our own history, and then to pick a work that looks back over the LGBTQ history over 120 years just seemed like a perfect and logical fit for us to choose.”
“Our chorus has grown now into… well over 100 voices, and to have the impact of that many guys sitting together, united in song and going forward in our movement and our mission, it’s just been amazing,” says Arrendondo. “It’s like a wall of sound. You’re going to be blown away by our performance, for sure.”