June 3, 2010 | by David J. Hoffman
Gaga over divas

They’ve been waiting in the wings for three years now, until the right time for the curtain to rise.

That’s how long the show has been a twinkle in the eye of Jeff Burhman, artistic director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (GMCW), together with his artistic team, waiting for the right time to stage their production of ‘DIVAS.’

And that time has finally arrived — beginning tomorrow night and then again on Sunday and then “poof!” DIVAS will be gone — so move quickly if you wish to see these legends together at last on one stage.

At GWU’s Lisner Auditorium these two days only.

This “broads with their balls-to-the-wall” musicale is simply spectacular, a cycle of song and dance in tribute to the Glorious Gals about whom we are so “gaga,” plus a few guys who have risen to “diva” status. From Garland to Gaga, they are legends in our own minds as well as their own.

Because it’s all about them. As usual.

In the words of the show’s creator Jeff Buhrman — now in his 10th season as GMCW’s artistic director — “it’s so high energy and so off-the-top-of-the-charts” that DIVAS is almost destined to become a legend of its own as a show, a “diva” perhaps itself, and so, of course, attention must be paid.

“Our chorus, our dancers, our soloists, and our special guest star, Christopher Peterson, have the broads with balls attitude” that every diva should demand from those providing her with needed homage, said Buhrman.

How many divas? Lots, as it’s the night of shooting stars. And how do we love them? Let us count the ways.

There’s Garland, of course, with happiness always hovering just over the rainbow, the actress betrayed by her roles. A star is born, and the star then flies too close to the sun and perishes slowly, inch by booze-soaked inch.

And there’s Karen Carpenter, too, a B-list echo of Garland’s study in addictive self-abuse.

More cheerfully, there’s Julie Andrews, Bette Midler and Cher. And standing so tall among her fellow divas that her shadow casts a thousand points of light for miles in every direction — Barbra Streisand.

And Madonna. And Beyonce. And the diva du jour, Lady Gaga herself. But wait, there’s more.

According to Buhrman, several male divas will also be honored with impersonations – “the oldest and dearest being Liberace,” but Buhrman would not be cajoled into divulging the other names, except to say that they will be “very recognizable, but their names will not even appear in the programs,” he added with sly amusement. “We enjoy surprising the audience.”

The headliner of course is Christopher Peterson, described by Buhrman as “the foremost female impersonator” with regular shows in Key West, Provincetown and Rehoboth Beach.

Peterson is unique, says Buhrman, in that he not only morphs into each persona with costumes — and there are nearly 15 such major costume changes in all, done rapid-fire —”but he also sings, not lip-synchs the stars in their actual voices.”

In addition to Peterson and the chorus and soloists, the GMCW dance troupe, ever light on their feet, will perform several homages, according to Buhrman, including one to Madonna’s “Vogue” persona and “this will be a real treat,” he promises. The 175 singers will also be joined by a small pit band and in some cases by musical tracks as accompaniment.

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