A chilly wind blows outside Rebecca Johnson’s office, where she is dreaming of warm tropical breezes and swaying palm trees. The conductor of the Metropolitan Chorale of Kansas City is drawing inspiration from some Kansas City area neighbors, who hail from Samoa, for the group’s annual spring show.
Johnson’s office at Metropolitan Community College-Blue River, where she teaches, provides the backdrop for the long-time conductor’s scripting of her group’s annual performance. The chorale is an eclectic group of singers from the Independence campus and community members, with ages ranging from students in their teens through senior citizens. This year’s annual show, “Music of the Islands,” will feature several Samoan singers and dancers who will provide more than the show’s theme as they join in singing with the group and several dancers will perform traditional island numbers.
The Saturday, April 12 performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Woods Chapel United Methodist Church, 5725 N.E. Lakewood Way, Lee’s Summit. Tickets are $10 each or $6 for students and seniors while children five and younger are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. For more information, call 816-604-6508 or email email@example.com.
Johnson is drawing upon pop culture with the opening number, the theme song from the 1960’s television show, Gilligan’s Island. But, as with each opening song, Johnson is re-writing the words. The new version will replace the song’s subject, the island on which the crew is stranded, with the show as the subject. Other selections include “Kum By Yah” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
This is the fifth year the show’s proceeds will benefit the Kansas City Ronald McDonald House, which provides free housing for families whose seriously ill children are being treated at nearby Children’s Mercy Hospital. For eight years, the chorale donated about $28,000 in spring show proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.
Chorale members will be in yet-to-be-determined tropical garb while the show’s long-time emcee, Kansas City radio personality Dick Wilson, will be dressed as a pirate and his narrator lingo will match. Wilson has emceed the shows for years and does so for free, even mentioning the show on air.
Johnson said while “community colleges aren’t known for great ensembles,” her group differs because of pairing the anchor singers found in the community with the “freshness” of students coming and going. The 40-member chorale accepts members by audition and has even been known to include several family groups. Community members pay $25 per semester to sing with the group while students pay for one hour of tuition and receive college credit.