The Maine Gay Men’s Chorus. Photo by Steven Bridges

Larry Jackson’s final three shows as artistic director of the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus are this weekend, and he’s pulling out all the stops, with a showcase of favorite songs.

The shows at South Portland High School will feature the 38-member chorus, with piano accompanist Sarah Phinney and guest singers Martin Lescault and Jennifer Miller. Billed as “Broadway Gala,” they’ll perform tunes like “For Good” from “Wicked,” “Someone Like You”  from “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Before The Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly!” along with a medley of numbers from “Oklahoma,” all either chosen or approved by Jackson.

“I like a variety show format. I pick music that I love, and then I put it together in as logical fashion that I can,” Jackson said.

The chorus was formed in 1992 and enjoyed a 20-year run before folding due to financial hardship. But when Jackson was at the Portland Pride festival in 2014 and missed seeing the chorus, he got to work trying to revive it. A year later, with the help of word of mouth at Blackstones bar in Portland as well as the reach of social media, the Maine Gay Men’s Chorus was back to performing during Pride month and the holiday season.

Maine Gay Men’s Chorus President Tommy Waltz describes its members as “stewards of hope, creativity and community,” and that sense of community will be on display this weekend.

One of the chorus’ primary goals is to create a safe space for its members and fans who attend shows. “I think that is something we’re truly anchored in, and from there, we’re able to be out in the community and stand strong even in the face of the aggressive hate that is being directed at our entire community at large,” said Waltz.


Incoming artistic director Nate Minifield agrees. “I think it’s really beautiful that the chorus is that space for so many people.”

Jackson, Waltz and Minifield shared what they love most about the shows.

“My favorite thing about every performance process is seeing the pride on the members’ faces when they achieve something that they didn’t know was possible at the beginning of the rehearsal process,” said Minifield.

Waltz said that seeing chorus members discover the gifts they didn’t know they had is meaningful. He also loves when longtime and newer members find their collective groove. “When we come together in that creative space, it just brings with it connection.”

Jackson pointed to the moment when the chorus and crowd click. “I love when I’ve put a program together and something lands and we finish a piece and there’s a roar from the audience. I live for that because I know I’m pleasing people, and making people happy is really what performing is all about.”

Maine Gay Men’s Chorus Broadway Gala
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday. South Portland High School, 637 Highland Ave., $20 in advance, $25 at the foor.

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