Last Saturday, there was a dual celebration concert at the Kahilu Theatre, for the Waimea Community Chorus (WCC), which will soon have its thirty-year anniversary, and for Broadway, which has re-opened with a bevy of new shows and old favorites.
During the pandemic, New York’s theatre district was one of the hardest-hit industries, but it’s starting to see a rebound this spring with 16 new productions plus three returning plays and musicals. To commemorate the highly anticipated event, Waimea Community Chorus’ Musical Director Barbara Kopra and her talented ensemble paid tribute with a performance called “Another Re-Opening, Another Show.”
“Some cast members and I have gone twice to New York, taken a workshop, and performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center,” recalled Kopra. “I remembered how exciting it was to walk down the streets of New York and see all those theater marquees. And I thought about how impacted they were by COVID. So, when Broadway re-opened, I decided that would be the theme for this year’s show.”
WCC is also reaching a milestone event with its 30th season approaching soon. “It all started with “Man of La Mancha,” and they had only 10-15 members in the group back then. When I took over, we had 25, and then reached 50 members in the Chorus. We’d outgrown our space at Parker and started performing at the Kahilu.” Before the pandemic, past performances featured sixty singers on stage.
Kopra added Adrienne Cherry on piano and Larry Boucher on drums for Saturday’s Broadway tribute show. Altogether there were 28 people, including five octogenarians. “They’re so passionate, and their energy amazes me. They’re the ones that keep me going!”
WCC’s setlist featured a wide variety of show tunes, including “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin, to “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera. Many of the concert’s highlights happened when individuals or groups of singers stepped out to perform solos.
Clem Lam, always a vibrant entertainer, gave us the title song from the musical Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations. I had high hopes he’d give us a taste of one of the R&B group’s signature dance moves, but perhaps he’s saving that for another show.
With “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” from Company, the audience was dazzled by the trio of Rona Lee, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, and Delany Yuko Ross. McGlynn and Ross returned later in the show for a superb duet on “For Good” from Wicked. Singer Steve Blum was outstanding with his solo in the Hamilton medley.
If all goes well this winter, WCC will return in December to revive its annual holiday show at the Kahilu. Unfortunately, WCC canceled their 2021 show due to the Omicron virus surge.
“Patty Bigelow, one of our octogenarians in the Chorus, wrote a musical called ‘Christmas Drives Me Crazy,’ and we will try that again…Bigelow’s show will be a staged concert version of the musical, but not with all the blocking and set design. It’s a reminder of the Christmas story and why there’s Christmas, but it’s a mix of sacred and fun.”
Notes & Links
Setlist: Another Opening, Another Show | Friend Like Me | You Could Drive a Person Crazy | Can You Feel The Love Tonight | All That Jazz | Backstage Romance | Think of Me | All I Ask of You | Hamiltion Highlights | Ain’t Too Proud To Beg | For Good | Choral Highlights |
Concert Date: 14/May/2022
Connect with the Waimea Community Chorus
Read a review of WCC’s Elton John Tribute.
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: © Steve Roby