photos by Scott Henrichsen
Buff, musclely, good looking and young are what define this new pop-classical gay band known as Well-Strung. There looks are not the only asset this chamber group has, which include the four hunks Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Daniel Shevlin (cello) and Trevor Wadleigh (viola). They’ve got talent which transforms into fun, theatrical and hilarious gay act.
If they hadn’t come up with this new concept, who knows where would they be? Bagnell and Shevlin were classically trained. Mr. Marchant, who reveals himself to have been a skinny geek who transformed himself into a guitar-playing hunk. With their combined talents this gay singing group is unique in their approach.
As a classical ensemble, this quartet is about more than musical perfection. This is a slick choreographed musical comedy act that ties together well-known classical music with the music pop icons like Britney Spears, Pink, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Keisha. They tell their stories in between, while playing and flirting with each other and with the audience, discreetly. The final result is not a classical concert, but a high-class cabaret performance full of fun moments. Well-Strung is charming, even when their jokes feel canned.
In one particularly adorable moment, Wadleigh reveals he spent much of his childhood idolizing Martha Stewart, while Marchant details his transformation from scrawny adolescent to buffy hunk man. The Well-Strung quartet delivers a show that is best-suited for fans of musical comedy, rather than the stodgy halls of the Lincoln Center or the Met.
Mr. Levinson and Mr. Shevlin, have done a good job at weaving classical music into pop hits which gives the show its essence. The show’s director, Donna Drake, an original cast member of Broadway’s “A Chorus Line” in 1975, knows just how far she can push before the novelty wares off.
And why they are doing this? “This is the first time I’ve been able to play music as entertainment,” said Wadleigh, who had been pursuing a career in musical academia prior to joining the group. “Some people have a very serious attitude [when it comes to classical music] about protecting this ancient art, whereas we can just have fun doing it,” and fun they have on and off stage.
“I think that what really excites people about us are our interactions with each other, something they’re not used to seeing, and what physicality that goes on in between the four players” adds Shevlin.
As music styles change our culture continuously,the most important thing is to have something different and unique as the famous stripper Gypsy once said “You gotta have a gimmick,” and a gimmick is something this singing gay quartet for sure has in spades.
Well-Strung will be performing at Center on Halsted in Chicago on Friday-Saturday, October 18 & 19, 2013. For information visit www.well-strung.com.