|Curtiss Castongundy twirled with the Lesbian/Gay Chorusâ€™s Stephanie Smith in their tutus. A heavily adapted Dickensâ€™ christmas Carol was delightfull interrupted by invitations for the audience to dance. Photo by Rink.
This year the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band put a new twist to their classic annual fundraiser, Dance-Along Nutcracker, by surmising what might occur if they combined A Christmas Carol by Dickens and The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky. The delightful result was a combination Ebenezer Drosselmeyer (played in top hat and extra mean disposition by Joe Collins aka Trauma Flintstone); a ghost of Marley as a drag queen (played by the spirited Donna Sachet); Fritz-Tiny Tim (Kelly Collins, a fine dancer); Mr. Stahlbauhm, F.A.O. Fezziwig (the suave Juan Crovetto); and his wife, Marta Stahlbauhm-Fezziwig (played by Carolyn Carvajal, who was also choreographer). Clara was played without a Dickens connection by cute Corinne Levy. Book was by Heidi Beeler. All this and the annual opportunity for wannabe ballerinas (female and male), radical faeries, regular fairies, and people fond of wearing tutus to come out, come out, wherever they were and dance along to the Band (under the baton of special guest conductor Jadine Louie) periodically playing eight lovely Nutcracker numbers. For the gala show on Dec. 13, this included a fantastic pre-show with City Swingâ€™s big band jazz and jazz singer/ mezzo soprano Joyce Grant, the great-great- niece of famed ragtime composer Scott Joplin.
The SF L/G Freedom Band played musical selections by Danny Elfman from The Nightmare Before Christmas. At stage left was a huge cardboard pine tree with red ornaments and a menorah (just to be inclusive). At stage right was a huge clock with Roman numerals, except for the number â€ś8â€ť and a â€śNo onâ€ť attached, replacing the VIII. The clock played an important part in the Scrooge characterâ€™s sweat factory - poor young Fritz Stahlbauhm-Tim forced to work overtime in his uncleâ€™s clock factory on Christmas Eve.
The Band played Tchaikovskyâ€™s â€śWaltz from Sleeping Beauty,â€ť so couples could dance cheek to cheek on the floor. â€śDance of the Hoursâ€ť featured five actual ballerinas joining the Stahlbauhm family party in a beautiful interpretation of the ballet from La Gioconda. Donna as narrator sang â€śYouâ€™re a Mean One, Drosselmeyerâ€ť to the similarly titled song from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Yes, this show was a delicious mix of all sorts of genres and musicals. Dukasâ€™ â€śThe Sorcererâ€™s Apprenticeâ€ť served as a great chance for the Ghost of Marley (Tom Sellars) to skillfully skate all around the dance floor, brandishing a scary green-faced banshee head on a pole. Marley (Sachet again) later appeared to the scroogey Drosselmeyer with clocks hanging from her neck, dragging chains - not her most becoming of accessories â€“ warning of three upcoming unwelcome visits from Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future (three Donnas). Her voice was frighteningly altered into a low, slow spooky warning, frequently punctuated by a regular mic using her normal voice â€“ just right for all her wisecracks and dishy DQ one-liners. Collins sang a bouncy Gershwinâ€™s â€śThey Canâ€™t Take That Away from Me,â€ť with changed lyrics to reflect and reminisce about his childhood nutcracker toy. But toys didnâ€™t sell back then, so Scrooge-Drosselmeyer got into the clock making business. Cue â€śThe Syncopated Clockâ€ť by Leroy Anderson, featuring Caravajal and Levy in clock suits dancing.
For the second half, the Band members wore different costumes according to their instrument sections. There were corpse brides and Jack from Nightmare; children in PJs and nightcaps nestled in their quilt bed; Beetlejuice characters; and more, with conductor Louie as Father Christmas. The height of the eveningâ€™s musical numbers was the fearsome â€śNight on Bald Mountainâ€ť by Moussorgsky with the entire dancing cast as spirits and demons flying about. The Grim Reaper (Donna in a shroud) appeared to Scrooge draped in black, eventually scaring greedy Drosselmeyer into repenting his avaricious, materialistic nature and freeing his nephew from clockwork tyranny. Sachet sang the all-inclusive â€śHave Yourself a Merry Little Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan,â€ť and everything ended happily ever after â€“ complete with a â€śsnowstormâ€ť of white Styrofoam balls falling all over the gleeful attendees in the hall.