The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus

The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus (FTLGMC) will present “Our Time With Sondheim,” an inspiring evening of music from Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim, with special guest performances by Broadway and opera superstars Lisa Vroman and Martha Bartz. Performances will be held at All Saints Episcopal Church located at 333 Tarpon Drive in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, March 16 at 8 pm and Sunday, March 18 at 4 pm.

“Broadway lovers are invited to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see FTLGMC join world renown guest artists for an enchanting tribute to the greatest Broadway creator of all, Stephen Sondheim,” said Dr. Gary Keating, founding and current director of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus. “As the first established gay arts organization in the State of Florida, it is a privilege to create performances that soar to new heights.”

Special guest star Lisa Vroman is a Broadway Leading Lady who holds the record for most performances as Christine Daae’ in Phantom of the Opera. Recognized by the great Cameron Mackintosh as “one of American Musical Theater’s most beautiful voices,” Harold Prince says that “few ladies today possess the exquisite voice, clarity and range of Lisa Vroman.”

Joining Vroman and the Chorus is opera titan Martha Bartz, an in-demand Mezzo Soprano direct from a performance at Lincoln Center in New York. She was the winner of the 2010 Classical Singer convention in NYC (Musical Theater), the 2008 NYC NATS competition and a finalist in the 2009 International Lotte Lehmann Cybersing competition.

It was a pleasure to sit down with both Lisa and Martha for this exclusive Hotspots interview:

Were both of you entertainers even as a child or when did the bug bite you?

Martha – I was a pianist as a child and then became a singer on the side. I studied music in college, but graduated with a business degree and worked in the business field for a long time. I went back to music at 46.

Lisa – I was a flute player and my mother was a music teacher, so I was forced to be in choir. It wasn’t until after grad school that singing came to my life.

What was your first professional gig?

Martha – I was a church singer at Plymouth congregational church and I got lots of weddings, etc.

Lisa – Same thing, I was singing at weddings, churches, bar mitzvahs, etc.

What is your all-time favorite song(s) to sing and why?

Lisa – They change as my age changes. There are some classical pieces that I now love, because now I get them. Recently I have been doing some Bernstein concerts and have been reminded of how much I love the song “Some Other Time.”

Martha – “Will You” from Grey Gardens, because it’s age appropriate and it fits perfectly in my voice.

What’s your favorite concert hall/auditorium you preformed in and why?

Martha – Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York.

Lisa – For me it’s The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia since it always is such a great experience and comforting place to be.

LISA -What has been your favorite role and why?

It was playing Aunt Birdie in Regina, the opera which is based on Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes”. I loved playing this part as it’s all about greed!

What is your fantasy role?

Lisa – I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

Martha – The mother in The Light in the Piazza.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the biz?

Martha – Get a business degree to fall back on. Also, to treat everyone with a level of respect and present yourself professionally at all times.

Lisa – It’s very hard these days since there are so many people trying to break into show business. But my advice would be to train your voice so that it’s not only about singing one song. You don’t have to be the best, best, best, but you have to be the best to work with. Also, work and work your voice as much as you can!

How much do you love Stephen Sondheim and his music?

Lisa – He is the center of the universe. It is incredible what he has accomplished!

Martha – I agree!

How excited are you to be performing at “Our Time with Sondheim” with the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus?

Martha – I am so excited to be working with Gary and the chorus, and getting to work with Lisa makes it even better.

Lisa – there is nothing more healing than hearing people sing together, so I am very excited about this concert.  

The Chorus with its very special guest stars will perform two shows that will pay tribute to the consummate American composer and lyricist known for more than a half-century for his contributions to musical theater. Sondheim has received an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (more than any other composer) including a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom. His best-known works as composer and lyricist include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, and Passion. He also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story and Gypsy.

Funding for the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus is provided in part by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council. General admission tickets are $25, VIP tickets with priority seating are priced at $40, plus a small service fee. For an additional $50 fee, fans can enjoy a private champagne reception and meet-and-greet with the special guest stars.

Tickets are available for purchase online at TheFTLGMC.org or by calling (954) 832-0060.