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Let’s Sing Gospel 101!
Goethe Mainstage

Remaining performances:
Saturday, July 11, 2009 @ 7:15 pm
Sunday, July 12, 2009 @ 3:15 pm
Saturday, July 18, 2009 @ 2:30 pm
Thursday, July 23, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

They say: YES YOU CAN! Sing gospel! In this interactive show, you are the cast and choir as you learn to sing gospel music. All ages, races, and voices are invited to sing, clap and move to Rosita’s piano beats. Only enthusiasm is required!

Suzyn says: One of the lovely things about the Fringe Festival is that you can be sitting in Georgetown University Law Center’s Williams Library at 5:30 and be a gospel singer by 6:05.  That pretty much sums up my Friday evening.

I abandoned the paper I was writing and attended this show on a whim, and was actually a couple of minutes late.  Three minutes into the show Rosita Mathews was already leading the audience in song.   As I guiltily made my way to the so-far-empty Soprano section, she finished out the verse and addressed me.

“You’re a soprano?” she asked

“A second soprano” I mumbled. “Sort of.”

“Well, we only have one other Soprano, so you can stand next to her in front of the altos.”

And so my gospel singing career began.

This show is not so much a performance as an interactive workshop.  Mathews plays killer piano, and she did a (dare I say it?) miraculous job of turning a dozen or so hardy souls into a gospel choir.  At one point, she instructed the three men in the group to “Give it an Usher-Michael Bublé sound,” and to my stark amazement, they did. Drummer Ricky Fishley, too, was always on hand for a wonderful solo or a rim shot when Mathews made a particularly silly joke.

Though my fellow soprano and I were in mortal terror when we had to sing by ourselves, Mathews got us through it.  She is a compelling leader, able to be self-deprecating one moment and deliver lines like “We laid down the pipe, now we’re going to turn on the faucet and let the music out” without a trace of the irony one would expect at a Fringe Festival show.   She has a boisterous and engaging presence and I found myself dutifully singing as well as I could and clapping in time to the music if only because she made it look like so much fun.

And it was.

See it if: You need a break from your homework, you want to feel uplifted for an evening or you just have yen to sing about shutting the door and keeping out the devil.

Skip it if: You’re just too self-conscious to get caught up in the joy of it or if you’ve sung “this little light of mine” enough for one lifetime.