'Drag Me to the Movies' - Cinematic songs with the SF Gay Men's Chorus

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Tuesday March 19, 2024
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Lady Camden at Davies Symphony Hall (photo: Max T Photo); San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Artistic Director and Conductor Jacob Stensberg<br>(photo: Stefan Cohen)
Lady Camden at Davies Symphony Hall (photo: Max T Photo); San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Artistic Director and Conductor Jacob Stensberg
(photo: Stefan Cohen)

On March 28 the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus will take to the stage of Davies Symphony Hall for an evening that will celebrate the magic of the movies.

The show, titled "Drag Me to the Movies," will include tunes from cherished films such as "Titanic," "Sister Act," "The Greatest Showman," "The Bodyguard," and two Bette Midler films, "Hocus Pocus" and "The First Wives Club." The Divine Miss M is a favorite of Jacob Stensberg, who serves as artistic director and conductor for the chorus.

San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus  

"Some songs felt inevitable," Stensberg said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "Like every song from every movie that Midler has ever done, and essentially the entirety of 'Moulin Rouge.' We also needed a bit of nostalgia, and for me that was something from 'Sister Act,' the movie that showed me that being a chorus director was an actual job. I needed something from the '80s, we landed on 'Let the River Run' from 'Working Girl' for that."

Stensberg grew up in rural Wisconsin and recalled watching Whoopi Goldberg play a San Francisco choir director, as well as watching Midler singing "Otto Titsling" in "Beaches," which, he said, he watched every day after school.

"Those stories about the world I had never dreamed of existing gave me some special kind of hope and determination," he said.

Since the show's title refers to drag, Stensberg was asked if there would be any drag performances during the concert. And indeed there will be. Dancers and solo artists will appear in their best drag finery.

"And special guest artist, from 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' Lady Camden," Stensberg said. "She'll be joining us for a few numbers in the show as well. And you should feel welcome to come dressed up however you want to."

Lady Camden at Davies Symphony Hall (photo: Max T Photo)  

Dance, drag and delights
Lady Camden, who describes herself as an ambitious little kid from Camden town, has worn several hats over the years. First, she wanted to be an artist, then an actor, and finally she became obsessed with the Royal Ballet. Ballet was her career for around ten years, before she transitioned into choreography.

"A break from dance due to an injury gave me a lot of free time to play with makeup," she said. "And then in true typical fashion I became obsessed and made drag my whole life."

Of all the movies scheduled to be featured in the show, Camden has a special affinity for "Titanic," and has always hoped for a sequel.

"I question what it was that I was expecting to see from a sequel," she said. "Does the boat come to life and emerge from the ocean? Does Jack come back? Would Jennifer Coolidge have a cameo?"

As "Drag Me to the Movies" is a celebration of love's starring role in the stories we tell, Camden elaborated on what that would mean for the audience.

"In most of the songs on this program the core storyline is some sort of love story," she said. "Some are happy endings and some are definitely not, but I think it's fun to watch these love stories be played out and see which ones we identify with. I think it's kind of human nature to see ourselves in certain characters and decide, would I have let Jack stay on the door with me?"

The show promises to offer a fun and exciting evening for all who attend. Stensberg promises that there will be plenty of great music.

"The more we searched, the more great music there was," he said. "It was difficult trimming the show down to under two hours. The SFGMC has a way of making these concerts so much more than just music. I think you just have to come to one to experience it for yourself."

San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus' 'Drag Me to the Movies,' March 28, 7:30 pm, Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave, $25-$145 www.sfgmc.org

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