Celebrating Harvey Milk
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus will perform composer Andrew Lippa’s "I Am Harvey Milk" on June 26, 27, and 28, at the Nourse Auditorium in San Francisco. Lippa and Broadway star Laura Benanti will join the chorus onstage to help tell the story of Harvey Milk’s life through song. Each night’s performance will begin at 8 p.m. Chorus conductor/artistic director Dr. Timothy Seelig describes the show as part theater piece, part choral performance.
"It’s a staged theater piece with video projection," Seelig informed the B.A.R. "It’s been in the works for three years. When we asked Andrew to compose it, he was thrilled. His husband worked on Gus Van Sant’s Milk movie, and he’s a Tony-nominated Broadway composer."
The show will commemorate the 35th anniversary of Harvey Milk’s assassination at City Hall. Milk is now a community legend as the first openly gay man in U.S. history to hold an elective public office.
"Today we’re horrified when someone is bullied for being gay," said Seelig. "But Harvey was murdered for being gay. His death was a seminal turning point for us, like Stonewall."
Seelig reminds us that the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus was born out of the ashes of Milk’s death. That very night, an impromptu memorial service on the steps of City Hall led to a musical performance. The participants became the first members of the chorus.
"As LGBT people, we have a lot of heroes in our lives," said Seelig. "We have a few who stood out and did great things, even though they were ordinary people. They had the courage to do extraordinary things. Harvey Milk was a normal guy, just like most of us. He looked around and decided he could make a difference. He stepped out of his comfort zone and stood up for what he believed. He gave those of us who followed him the courage to do the same."
The show will tell the story of Harvey’s life, from his boyhood until his death. "Every audience member should be able to walk out and say, ’I am part of Harvey Milk.’
"It’s definitely a theater piece," said Seelig. "It’s very theatrical. Lippa is extraordinary. When it ends, the audience will be elated beyond their expectations."
Tickets: $25-$65. Info can be found at the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus website, Directions to the Nourse Auditorium: www.cityarts.net