According to Holt, Act I celebrates the love and loyalty of great friends with such songs as Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” Jason Mraz’s “Song for a Friend,” Destiny’s Child’s “Stand Up for Love” and the exuberant “I Just Wanna Dance” from “Jerry Springer: The Opera.”
Act II comprises the West Coast premiere of Michael Shaieb’s 45-minute theatrical musical “Through a Glass, Darkly,” which dramatizes 36 hours in the life of Sebastian (La Jolla Country Day teacher Caleb Goh), a young Wall Street executive who becomes addicted to crystal methamphetamine. He moves away from his long-term partner and back into the club scene, where he meets a younger man whom he introduces to meth for the first time.
Holt says both chorus members and the public have asked why he’s programmed such a piece. “Many think I’m crazy,” he said. “It’s easy to just do concerts that are fun and which the audience loves, but part of SDGMC’s mission is to do things that are socially relevant, and addiction is certainly one of them.”
Having been affected by a friend’s addiction, Shaieb wrote “Through a Glass, Darkly” in 2008 on a commission from the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus.
“We didn’t realize it was going to have such an effect on people,” Shaieb said. “Something has to make a cathartic change in somebody’s life, and sometimes music does that … It just hits them to their very core.”
Holt said SDGMC has grappled with meth addiction.
“We’ve had people who simply vanish after three weeks of rehearsal,” he said. “We don’t hear from them, can’t locate them.”
This is exemplified in “Through a Glass, Darkly” by a section titled “Messages,” in which Sebastian avoids his answering machine because he fears hearing messages from his mother and his employer.
“The piece is not preachy or judgmental,” Holt said. “I daresay it’s not even very hopeful. When you care for someone deeply you don’t always do things the right way the first time.”
He said he believes Shaieb figured that out because in the final movement the protagonist’s partner, who was left behind, says, “If you could see what I see in you, that you are beautiful, you wouldn’t need to escape.”
“It’s a magnificent piece of music,” Holt said, adding that it is scored to sound like modern club music.
“Friend Me,” including “Through a Glass, Darkly,” will be performed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April, 10, at the David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive. More information is available at www.sdgmc.org.