Arts in the Dark features Chicago Gay Men's Chorus

Wed. October 16, 2019 7:28 AM by News Staff

arts in the dark

photo credit // aneesah muhammad
Chicago, IL - This Saturday, October 19, 2019, the enchanting 5th annual Arts in the Dark Halloween parade marches down State Street, dazzling the audience with unique floats, spectacle puppets and creative performances celebrating Halloween as the artist's holiday and featuring members of Chicago's diverse cultural community, which includes the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus.

The procession honors the "Year of Chicago Theatre" with an opening float followed by 14 Chicago-based theater companies commissioned by LUMA8. In its fifth year, the parade, which starts at 6p.m. downtown on State Street and marches from Lake Street to Van Buren, will bring together 80 contingents ranging from world-renowned organizations.

GoPride talked with Jimmy Morehead, Artistic Director, and Leslie Star, Performance Chair, of the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus (CGMC).

MI: (Matt Inawat, GoPride) Tell us a little about CGMC's involvement in Arts In The Dark this year?

LS: (Leslie Star, Chicago Gay Men's Chorus) Our theme this year is Light of the Living Dead and so you can look forward to all sorts of the undead. Like vampires and ghouls and zombies and skeletons and things of that nature that are lit up.

MI: That sounds great! Will you be in costume while performing?

JM: (Jimmy Morehead, Chicago Gay Men's Chorus) You can't hear over the floats and the groups around us cause vocals don't really carry over the marching band behind us, that is four feet behind us, so we will be there to represent and share some things we have done in the past and hopefully promote our holiday show that is coming up.

MI: So can you tell us some of the tracks that we might hear from the group in the parade?

JM: We are gonna perform some scary songs that will be appropriate for Halloween from past shows. You will have to come to the parade to hear them.

MI: How did CGMC get involved with the parade?

LS: Our past board of directors person got us involved.

JM: Yes, we graciously received a grant from DCASE, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Social Events; and they also head up Arts In The Dark, so to make sure we are involved in the city and honoring that they are supporting us as soon as they started Arts In The Dark we jumped onboard and so it is a wonderful way to be a part of the larger arts community in Chicago that is not just LGBT, while representing our larger LGBTQ+ community on the larger arts stage. So it is kind of a nice back and forth.

MI: For those not really familiar with CGMC quite yet, can you tell us a little about CGMC and its purpose?

JM: The chorus was founded in 1983. We have a membership of about 200 people. We love to entertain while inspiring change and educating and we do that through song; we do that through private performances; we do that through our outreach program too. 

We have a fun saying in Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, "not everyone has to live in Chicago to be a part of Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, not everyone has to be gay, not everyone has to be male and not everyone has to sing super well because we will catch you up." So, it is very community-based while still striving for the greatest musical achievement and the entire time we have a good old time doing it and any chance we get to make a joke we do.

MI: In addition to Arts In The Dark, we are getting close to the holidays which is always a busy time for the group. Can you tell us about any other events coming up for CGMC?

JM: We will be singing at the Wreathing of the Lions on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, at The Art Institute of Chicago, and then the following weekend we have our Holiday Show which is Holidisco, which is all Disco songs and Disco-fied holiday favorites which is sure to be a blast and then we will be gearing up for our show next year which is Lipstick and Lyrics which is a live-singing drag show at the end of February. This year's theme is All In The Family.

MI: The first event you mentioned is the Wreathing of the Lions, tell us a little about that.

JM: So the Art Institute does a nice ceremony that is very family-friendly and, I think, open to the public where we sing on the steps while they wreath the lions for the holiday at the museum so we will be doing a half-hour set beforehand and they will wreath the lions and then we will go inside and sing another half-hour set inside the museum.

MI: That is pretty cool, is this the first year?

JM: It is.

MI: Well that sounds super exciting. So if there is someone out there thinking "I really need to become a part of this amazing group, but I don't quite have the singing talent" are there other ways they can participate, volunteer or get involved with CGMC?

JM: Sure. If you do want to join you can look us up on our website,, and go to "join us" and that will hopefully answer all of your questions on what it takes to become a singing member. Outside of that there are lots of ways you can participate. You can buy a ticket, you can share a Facebook event, you can tell your friends about us, and volunteer in a non-singing capacity.

LS: I think it is pervasive enough in the chorus that all who join up find a community and that it is really a very supportive environment for everyone who joins besides being a lot of fun to sing everywhere.

MI: What is the typical time commitment for someone who wants to join as a singer?

LS: Sundays for rehearsal and then our shows. If you want to be in the cabaret and small shows you have also have to audition for those and go to rehearsals for those, but you don't have to do that. So Sunday afternoon/evening rehearsals is really the major thing.

JM: And if you can't make every Sunday we make compensations or dispensations to make sure you can make up the rehearsal time. You are allowed to miss a certain number of rehearsals. So there are ways to work around schedules. We understand that people have lives and jobs and that there are other commitments.

LUMA8 (Light Up My Arts), which produces Arts in the Dark, is an independent not-for-profit dedicated to creating conversations about Chicago that are heard around the world - achieved through unique cultural events and experiences, often using light and scale as tools, and by developing innovative ways to amplify the effect of existing arts initiatives. It coordinates the work of public agencies, arts organizations and artists to elevate the cultural life of the city, attract visitors, and ultimately generate economic impact.