BWW Previews: I AM HARVEY MILK comes to the Folly in Kansas City

Steve Wilson |

Heartland Men's ChorusThe Heartland Men’s Chorus unites with the St. Louis Gateway Men’s Chorus to bring I Am Harvey Milk, to the stage of the Folly Theater in Kansas City, Mo. The celebration of the life of civil rights icon Harvey Milk takes the stage on March 29 and 30. Preceding the Kansas City performance, the choruses will present a free preview on March 8 at 7 p.m., at the Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, Mo. An encore performance will take the stage of the Washington University’s 560 Music Center in St. Louis on April 5.

I Am Harvey Milk, written by composer Andrew Lippa, is the tragic story of Milk’s life from childhood to his assassination in 1978. Six gay men’s choruses including the Heartland Men’s Chorus joined to together to commission the work in 2013.

Milk was the first openly gay elected officer in California when he secured a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In 11 months in office, he was responsible for the passing of stringent gay rights ordinances in the city. “It’s not a straight-forward biography,” says Rick Fisher Executive Director of the Heartland Men’s Chorus. “The songs touch on universal themes including bullying, activism, and the building of community.” In 2009, he posthumously was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“What set Harvey apart from you or me was that he was a visionary. He imagined a righteous world inside his head and then he set about to create it for real, for all of us,” wrote Anne Kronenberg his final campaign manager. The production features individual sets with repertoire by the St. Louis and Kansas City choruses before they come together for Lippa’s I Am Harvey Milk.

Conducting the Kansas City performance is Dr. Tim Seelig, the conductor the world premiere in San Francisco in 2013. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus first appeared in public at a candlelight vigil the night that a former city employee assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone. “This is not a story specific to San Francisco,” says Seelig. “This is about a man who stepped forward and did something remarkable, even though he was not particularly remarkable by most accounts. It is about a man who became a hero and martyr for what he believed. Composer Andrew Lippa‘s goal was that every single person who hears this will somehow resonate with the person who was Harvey Milk and look for the part of Harvey within them.”

Joining Seelig and the 200 members of the combined choruses will be soprano Sylvia Stoner, tenor Tom Lancaster as Harvey Milk, and 12-year old Cam Burns as the young Harvey.

Purchase tickets for I Am Harvey Milk at the Heartland Men’s Chorus website or order by phone at 816-931-3338.