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Back to the ’80s

Back to the ’80s
Performers: Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir

Musical Director: Adam Majsay
Seymour Centre  
June 8, 2024

The blast from the past provided by the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir’s program of iconic hits celebrating the great hits of the ’80s proved to be just the right note for beginning the June long weekend with an energetic dose of uplifting aural magic.

The Choir has provided the Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community with a theatrical presence since its establishment in 1991. It is a non-auditioned choir which unites people with a love of singing, regardless of sexual identity or musical experience. It’s a community which celebrates inclusion and harmony.

Musical director Adam Majsay has collated a program of more than 18 hits from this era – these songs, with their universal appeal are instantly recognisable by a contemporary audience – nearly everyone seems to know the words, having been exposed to them in nightclubs, pubs, or grooved to them on the dance floor.

The 100-strong choir leads off with a gentle soulful ballad before bursting out energetically with a medley comprising “I’m So Excited” (Pointer Sisters) and “Run to Paradise” (Choirboys). After that the hits come thick and fast – “Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen), “Jack and Diane” (John Mellencamp), “I’m Coming Out” (Diana Ross), “Wind Beneath My Wings” (Bette Midler), to name just a few.

No list of 1980s songs would be complete without the inclusion of those mega divas of that decade, Madonna, Bonnie Tyler and Cyndi Lauper, where the choir enthusiastically tackles “Like a Virgin” (Madonna), “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (Bonnie Tyler), “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “True Colours” (Cyndi Lauper).

Some minor re-enactments from iconic music videos feature some of the soloists. Particularly entertaining was “Material Girl” (Madonna) where the singer, in red gown and ash-blonde Marilyn hair, is wooed by her suitors, unleashing a shower of “money”. Unexpectedly, two peeved “cleaners” appear, with outsized brooms to clean up the mess, much to the audience’s delight!

And if the choral magic is not enough, there is a visual feast via their costuming. It was an era of “anything goes” in fashion, and the choir does not disappoint – the riot of colour is a welcome change from the usual black-and-bling attire of most choirs. The audience delighted in the fun of guessing the characters – standouts were Freddie Mercury, Madonna, George Michael, Kiss, Billy Idol, Elton, Bowie and Devo.

The novelty number, “Walk Like an Egyptian” (The Bangles), got both audience and choir moving, having a lot of fun imitating the Egyptian arm moves.

Well, all good things must come to an end, as they say, and their closing number was particularly appropriate and heartfelt – “We Are the World” by USA for Africa, the song which raised funds for the famine in Africa in the ’80s.

When next you feel like an enjoyable trip down Memory Lane with a retro flavour, be sure to watch out for performances of this talented community who love to sing – their brand of uplifting choral expression is a powerful symbol of the diversity, inclusion and harmony desperately needed in today’s world.

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