Since the title of the concert was chosen before the decision to close down, the programs read, "Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Celebrating the Cream City (and the Wisconsin Cream City Chorus)". Although the "Laverne and Shirley" themesong (as well as "Happy Days") did make it into the concert, the program was altered to be as much of a retrospective on the chorus as could be crammed into a reasonable time.
This was not easy. I heard that over eighty songs were on the chorus members' "must do" list, and a lot of work was involved in paring that down to a list of 45, most of which were excerpted into six long medleys. It was a herculean task stitching all that together and working transitions and accompaniment, such that, given some life events that occurred during the rehersal period, the ultimate product could have doen with a bit more polishing in some places. I think the tough decision should have been made to cover a bit less territory and concentrate on fewer but stronger songs.
I like a good medley as much as anyone, especially one that's wittily constructed, but not to have the vast majority of the concert composed that way, which got a bit wearisome.
That being said, the sheer sentiment of the occasion made up for much. Georgie and I have been attending the concerts for most of twenty years of the group's twenty-five year existence, and it was nice to have remembrances of songs from long ago, as well as a taste of those that were before our time.
Some of the particular gems were Ebbie Duggins and Shirl Greeb on "Letters," Emory Churness and Hilary Giffen on "The Song that Goes Like This," and the entire chorus and alumni members on "The Last Curtain Call," a powerful yet joyous rendition that had tears running down my face.
Over the years, the Cream City Chorus has given us an exceptional outpouring of creativity and invention, especially for a small, community group. We have had new music, new songs, and new styles of presentation. Some have been more sucessful than others, but always fresh, interesting, and making you look forward to what the next concert would hold.
The end of the Cream City Chorus is the end of a small but significant chapter in Milwaukee's artistic history. It will be missed.
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