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Heartland Men’s Chorus Brings Vegas Strip To Folly Stage

Kicking off the summer with a trip to the Vegas strip, Heartland Men’s Chorus is bringing “Vegas Baby” to the Folly Theater in Kansas City, Mo., in what's envisioned as a lavish spectacle. The chorus, with 150 singers, will be joined by magicians, showgirls and aerial acrobatics.

Guest conductor Anthony T. Edwards says one of the highlights for him will be seeing Quixotic perform onstage as the chorus sings Cirque du Soleil’s Let Me Fall.

"It’s like directing a circus. We’re going to blow the walls out of that place," he says with a laugh. "It’s a really high energy evening."

Not too close to bump headdresses

A 20-year veteran of the chorus, Dudley Hogue, performs as one of five showgirls during the concert.

"This is a big show and the Folly stage is very small," Hogue says. "We know that we have to be very close to each other, but we can’t be too close to each other because we’ll bump headdresses or something like that."

In step with the Vegas theme, the showgirl costumes will be outsized. So a big challenge for Hogue is the headdress that he and the other showgirls will be wearing.

"As I was told during one of my costume fittings, showgirls never put their heads down and there is a reason for that because your headdress will be on the floor," he says. "We’ve been practicing knowing that we are going to wear these big headdresses; trying to hold our heads still and not bending over."

Doing what the chorus does best

Featured soloist Keith Wiedenkeller will perform Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way.” Wiedenkeller says that putting on a show is what the chorus does best.

"We are hardly ever a stand and sing chorus," he says. "We always consider our concerts more of a show than a concert, but this concert definitely takes the show concept to a whole new level."

Edwards says it's been fun for him as conductor to watch the chorus sing music they enjoy, but he hopes it will be fun for the audience as well.

"The GALA (gay and lesbian) chorus movement was born out of the AIDS crisis. And I told the chorus last week, ‘Who’s to say that if somebody smiles or somebody laughs or has a good time or hums along, we might be curing cancer,'" says Edwards. "Enjoying yourself is a big part of medicine."

Heartland Men’s Chorus presents “Vegas Baby,” June 13 - 15, Folly Theater, 300 West 12th Street, Kansas City, Mo., 816-931-3338.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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