CARS HOMES JOBS

Chorus to parody Dickens classic

Thursday, December 6, 2012
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Dressed like Ebeneezer Scrooge, Rich Gervais of the Racing City Chorus, rehearses for “What the Dickens: A Partridge in a Parody.”
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Dressed like Ebeneezer Scrooge, Rich Gervais of the Racing City Chorus, rehearses for “What the Dickens: A Partridge in a Parody.”

The Racing City Chorus takes on the holidays with a musical parody of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol.”

The 40-member a cappella group, founded in 1956, will perform “What the Dickens: A Partridge in a Parody” at 7 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Saratoga.

“It’s a zany, music-oriented redepiction,” said stage manager and producer Vic Del Negro of Easton.

The chorus members, who range from high-school students to those in their mid-80s, will sing, act, don costumes and execute special effects, all in the name of good, clean holiday fun appropriate for all ages. In addition to four-part harmony, this musical adaptation of Dickens’ story has its share of humorous twists.

‘What the Dickens: A Partridge in a Parody’

WHERE: First Baptist Church of Saratoga, 45 Washington St;, Saratoga Springs

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday,

HOW MUCH: $15; children under 16 free with adult.

MORE INFO: 885-7904, 371-0062

Racing City Chorus director Rich Gervais of Latham plays the part of Ernie, a Scrooge-like character who has lost his belief that music is important to the holiday season. Not only is music unimportant, he complains, with Scrooge’s signature “Bah, humbug!” directed at the Christmas carolers, played by the chorus members — the noise, it seems, disturbs his sleep.

Musical ghosts

Who better than a chorus full of music lovers, several of whom are members of award-winning barbershop quartets, to show him the error of his ways?

The script comes from the Barbershop Harmony Society, and also includes the three Dickensian ghosts. Foster Mann of Greenwich plays the Spirit of the Past, Warren Feulner of Gansevoort is the Spirit of the Present, and Pete Henningson of Saratoga portrays the Spirit of Time Yet to Come.

The three set out to change Ernie’s mind about holiday music. Les Richmond of Greenfield Center plays the part of Ernie’s late partner, here named Jacob Morely. “It’s just a madcap kind of romp through the Scrooge story,” Gervais said.

Gervais has a particularly challenging role in the evening, morphing from Ernie to director of the chorus to a quartet member during the performance. “I walk off one line, quickly change out of my nightshirt and hat and run over to direct the chorus,” he said.

“Then I run off the stage and become Ernie again. It is kind of a wild and crazy time. It has a lot of slapstick-type humor and vignettes in it.”

Gervais interacts with the audience during the performance, and the performers also invite the audience to participate in a holiday sing-along. Throughout the show, the chorus sings more than a dozen holiday favorites that project the action of the characters in the parody.

Quartets abound

The second half of the show is in more of a concert style, with music performed by different groups. The show features performances by the chorus’ quartets — Beer Can Chicken, the Elderly Brothers and Primrose Lane, a quartet that was the 2011 Northeast Senior Quartet Champion.

A guest quartet, Dented Fenders, will also appear. This group, formed eight years ago, is made up of experienced barbershop performers. “They do a whole routine of Christmas music on the light side,” said Gary Glidden of South Glens Falls, the chorus’ assistant director and “What the Dickens” chairman.

Dented Fenders is well-known for its humor. “We’ll promise that they’ll have a smile on their face from beginning to end, as we sing to amuse,” said baritone Bill Schutz of Schuylerville.

The chorus ends with “Toyland” and the “Toy Soldiers March,” a choreographed number. The show ends with a big finale of holiday season music that the chorus performed at its district competition in October.

“It should give you a good feeling for starting the Christmas season with a positive attitude,” Del Negro said.

 
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