200 Member Male Chorus Group to Perform in Elkhart Saturday

April 30, 2013

Big sound is what visitors to the Lerner Theater can expect Saturday night.

About 200 men — members of eight choruses from Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio — will be singing show tunes for the Big Sing: A Night at the Theatre.

John Chenoweth, of Mishawaka, a long-time member of local group Michiana Male Chorus, said that the Big Sing is an event for the combined choruses of the Greater Lakes Male Chorus Association. The Lerner Theatre was selected as the location for this year’s show partly because of the recently acquired organ at the facility.

“In 2008, we went to South Bend,” said Chenoweth. “This time we wanted to go out into the Elkhart community. We wanted to incorporate the organ at the Lerner into the performance.”

Chenoweth, a retired Concord High School teacher, said he first started singing in a male chorus while serving in the Air Force in Korea in the 1950s. He and two other men were some of the first members of the Michiana Male Chorus, which started in 1985. Chenoweth said he loves singing, much like the other members of the group.

“I never get tired of singing – they say the voice is the last to go,” said Chenoweth. “Some of us are retired, but some are still working. They like to come out to practice on a Monday night.”

Saturday’s show will include musical numbers from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “The Lion King.”

“The show tunes I think will go over well,” said Ron Hodgson, another member of the group. “Everyone has seen some or heard some. We have a variety - there are some slower songs and some peppy ones.”

Hodgson said that the purpose of the Big Sing is to bring audiences the experience of 200 men singing at one time. An added benefit, he said, is that members of the visiting choruses will be bringing revenue to area businesses. The performers will be given a map of the area and an information packet about places to eat and things to see and do in Elkhart.

The performance Saturday begins at 7 p.m. Members will rehearse, both together and separately, beginning in the morning. Chorus members usually put together an afterglow performance after the main show. It’s a time to just sing some songs for fun amongst themselves, said Hodgson.

“Because of the variety of different people singing and different times, (the event) isn’t too much strain on the voice,” said Hodgson.

All of the chorus members are volunteers. The admission fee for Saturday’s performance will go to cover the cost of renting the theatre and some operating costs, said Hodgson.

Michiana Male Chorus is a non-profit group funded by member dues. The group has about 20 members now, but there’s always room for more, according to Hodgson.

“Anyone is welcome to join,” said Hodgson. “We don’t have an audition. If you like to sing, you can come and sing.”

The Big Sing: A Night at the Theater begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 4 at the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart. Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and free for ages 12 and younger. Tickets are available at the Lerner box office in advance or at the door, or call Chenoweth at 574-360-1243.