Sat 2/22 @ 6:30-11PM
For the last 30 years, the North Coast Men’s Chorus has found a diverse audience. Not only does the nonprofit act as an important source of support and positive influence for the LGBTQ community, but the roughly 130-member outfit also stages three fabulous shows annually.
The season also includes its Carnival-theme fundraiser February 22 at Windows on the River; its next show is “Our Great Big Broadway Show” (March 21 and 22 at Playhouse Square).
CoolCleveland talked to North Coast Men’s Chorus executive director Jon Kozesky about the group’s impact on the Northeast Ohio LGBTQ scene and the upcoming events.
CoolCleveland: Jon, what role does North Coast Men’s Chorus play in Northeast Ohio?
Jon Kozesky: The North Coast Men’s Chorus has really become a pillar of our arts and culture community. It provides a product that otherwise isn’t out there in terms of the message that they’re sharing, the music that they’re performing and the depth of the art that’s involved in it. You attend and expect a beautiful show, but then you walk out with a message. Perhaps you’re feeling something that you hadn’t felt before for a part of our population that maybe you interact with or maybe you don’t. Now you can better understand their situation and better accept them for who they are.
CC: Normally the North Coast Men’s Chorus schedules a Mardi Gras-themed fundraiser. What led to the change this year to Carnival?
JK: We’ve been doing Mardi Gras for a number of years. We like to have a party. We like song and dance, costumes and Mardi Gras as a theme, but we wanted to change it up a little bit this year. We’re switching it to Carnival and giving it more of a South American flare when it comes to the food and music. It wouldn’t be the North Coast Men’s Chorus if we didn’t have all of the emotions together, so we’re going to have some really compelling testimonials from some of those students we reached out to that have become part of our North Coast Men’s Chorus family. It’ll really be a great event touching all different corners.
CC: Tell us about North Coast Men’s Chorus’ community outreach programming.
JK: That’s related to our fundraising, which is twofold. First, fundraising assists us in our college outreach efforts, which is a huge cornerstone of our organization. We want to be reaching out to people in the community who need us most. People who perhaps at work or with their families or in their social circles don’t feel accepted for who they are. They have a home in the North Coast Men’s Chorus. We need to get out to those people. So I’m proud to say today we’re on 20 different campuses all throughout Northeast Ohio doing outreach efforts and sponsoring events for them to hear our message. The other part of our fundraising is making our tickets available for everyone, so they can go to see the show no matter their income level.
CC: What do you have in store for this year’s “Our Great Big Broadway Show?”
JK: We’re certainly excited to be back at Playhouse Square. We’re there usually for one show every season. What makes that show so much fun is we have so much opportunity and so much we can pull from. We’re going to perform some Broadway hits and also introduce the audience to some new favorites.
CC: It would seem as though the biggest hurdle facing the North Coast Men’s Chorus is getting the public to expect something more than quintessential community theater fare.
JK: I can speak to that firsthand. I’ve been executive director of this group now going on two years. When I first learned of it I was expecting what most people would, that this is going to be some kind of community theater event. When I walked in, I realized I was sitting in a Broadway show and every corner of this was like professional theater that I would see in New York City. I was blown away. One of my favorite parts of being executive director is to get that kind of feedback from first-time attendees that just walk out and say, “Wow, that was not what I expected. That was amazing. I laughed, I cried.”
CC: Finally, it seems as though the North Coast Men’s Chorus is alive and well in its fourth decade.
JK: It’s full steam ahead, absolutely. We’re so excited. There are a lot of new endeavors and a lot of new energy in the group. We have a lot of younger members and new board members. We’re coming into this. We’re going to hit that season 40 and beyond, for sure.