Bob Evans | Examiner.com
Brrrr…..the temperature fell to more than frigid, and, yes, baby, it’s cold outside; but inside Kansas City’s Folly Theater, the atmosphere is anything but chilling. As a matter of fact, it’s warm, inviting, and invigorating as the Heartland Men’s Chorus presents its annual holiday concert for the Christmas season, Baby It’s Cold Outside.
Fun, spectacular, exciting, uplifting, funny, heartfelt–all describe the evening of music and laughter. Expect high level entertainment and family fun and a two-hour escape from the near 0 temps that blew into the area recently.
Each act presented so many opportunities for the audience to laugh and smile. Act I started with a new and upbeat take on “The Little Drummer Boy,” followed by the Charlie Brown standard, “Christmas Time Is Here.” After that, the fun began with a medley entitled Shades of Christmas. The medley featured three vastly differing views of Christmas–white, blue, and lavender–yes,lavender. While everyone knows the first two Christmas standards, they have probably never heard them preformed together like the HMC did. Then, to add a fabulous touch, the Heartaches, the select group from HMC, entered to perform a comedy piece, “Lavender Christmas.” Then all three pieces blended to one last chorus of each of the three selections. Boisterous applause displayed the audiences enjoyment.
After that stirring, humorous number, all the Black members of the chorus assembled to protest the lack of color in all previous TV Christmas specials before they burst into their stylized protest song, “Black Christmas,” to the delight of the near capacity crowd.
HMC celebrated diversity and inclusion in its efforts to reach out, educate, and include everyone. As such, the programs always feature sign language for a way to reach hearing impaired individuals. Christmas concerts always include a Chanukah song.
Also, included in Act I, a tropical spin on “Over the Rainbow,” and many other standard Christmas carols added to the festivities along with a fun adaptation of the title song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
After intermission, HMC jettisoned into high speed and delivered dose after dose of fun entertainment complete with dancers, puppets, a drag queen, the Heartaches, and a special surprise guest to end the show. Even though the names of the songs are unknown, the entertainment value built with each selection while the HMC preformed all of Act II in Santa Claus outfits–other than the Heartaches as reindeer and the dance team as elves. Each song built on the rapturous applause of its predecessor.
To end the show, the surprise guest came onstage to join HMC for a rousing version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” But that’s not the end.
Baby It’s Cold Outside signaled the end of a 15-year association with artistic director, Joe Naeau. Noticeably touched by his past service and pending departure to a bigger venue in California, HMC President of the Board, Keith Wiedenkeller presented Nadeau with a framed baton, vest, and bow tie to symbolize the HMC. With heartfelt gratitude and noticeably emotional, Wiedenkeller fought for words to convey his earnest gratitude to Nadeau. The standing ovation for the presentation demonstrated the amount of love between the audience, the HMC, their director, and the family that they all created over his 15-year tenure. It’s obvious his talent and presence will be missed while his past dedication continues to elicit fond, familiar remembrances.
Only two opportunities remain to experience probably the most joyful Christmas concert of the Christmas season. HMC performs the best, brightest, and most fun holiday show in Kansas City. To be thoroughly entertained, run don’t walk to the HMC website or call the box office for tickets. The show is astounding and highly recommended for family entertainment. For information: hmckc.org.