The Merry Men of Men Alive

by Tony Reverditto

Rage Monthly

Saturday November 25, 2017

It may seem a little early for a Christmas anecdote, but MenAlive, Orange County Gay Men's Chorus holiday concert takes place Friday and Saturday, December 1 and 2, so we didn't want you to miss it!

A little history: MenAlive, the brainchild of founder Rich Cook, began with 13 singers back in 2001. Today, under the direction of Artistic Director Bob Gunn (taking over for Cook in 2014), there are approximately 130 members, with a support team of more than 50 volunteers.

Now, for the launch of their 17th season, MenAlive is offering the merry adventure, "Santa and Son." It's the story of Orphan Jack and his friends as they set off on the search to find Jack's father at the North Pole on Christmas Eve because of a curious lead. As they take audiences through a winter wonderland of magical song and dance, Jack learns the true meaning of love, family and home.

The president of MenAlive's Board of Directors, Patrick Reynolds, sat down with The Rage Monthly to fill us in on the chorus's upcoming shows, their mission and his position there.

When asked about his background, Reynolds began with his early days in more southern climes. "I grew up in the small southern town of Albertville, Alabama. When I was 18, I moved to Florida and started working for The Walt Disney Company selling popcorn and pretzels. My career with

Disney has been an exciting, educational journey and today, I am a project manager supporting Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide."

He continued, further explaining his local connection, "I now live in Irvine with my husband David and our pups. I also cochair the PRIDE Diversity Resource Group, which helps build on Disneyland Resort's inclusive workplace environment for LGBT and ally employees."

Reynolds has worked with MenAlive for seven years, and when asked how he originally became involved, he offered this: "I had just moved to Southern California and was invited to a MenAlive concert by my roommate, Jason. During the show I thought, 'Wow this group is pretty amazing! 'As I do not sing in public, nor would anyone want me to, I decided to sign up as a volunteer. I assisted backstage during the performances and I've been volunteering ever since and joined the board of directors early this year."

MenAlive has a stellar reputation, not just for their wonderful performances, but for the organization's camaraderie. We wondered what makes this particular group so special. "These men all come from different backgrounds, but you'd never know it when they're on stage as they come together as one," said Reynolds. "The organization provides a place where they can be themselves without fear of discrimination. Performing for the community can be so rewarding and knowing that you are making a difference and uplifting someone's life is the most rewarding part!"

Reynolds shared his hopes for the organization over the coming years. "We are constantly looking at ways to expand our community outreach and recently did a chili cook-off and a dessert auction. We're also partnering with the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana for a screening of Auntie Mame on Thursday, November 9 and will help celebrate Shanti's 30th Anniversary in January. We are also performing Andrew Lippa's ground-breaking masterwork 'I Am Harvey Milk' as part of our Heroes concert in the summer of 2018."

He went on to include even more: "It continues with a commitment to make the world a more accepting and loving place and we're currently looking at new ways of building bridges with not only the LGBT community, but to the greater Orange County community."

As to what audiences can expect from the holiday show? "It's going to be a concert filled with fun and beautiful choral music, linked by a sweet story of a young man searching for the father he's never known. There will be familiar favorites like 'Winter Wonderland' and 'Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town,' along with newer classics such as 'That's Christmas to Me' and 'Candy Cane Lane,' sure to put a smile on everyone's face.

MenAlive's "Santa and Son" takes place Friday and Saturday, December 1 and 2 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive in Irvine. For tickets and more information call 866.636.2543 or go to

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