Broadway — barbershop style

MARSHALL – The Song of the Prairie Chorus may be small in number, but it is big in sound.

And it’s bringing familiar songs from the Broadway stage to area communities this weekend.

The Song of the Prairie Chorus is presenting “Barbershop on Broadway” at 7 p.m. today at United Church of Christ in Granite Falls and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Tracy Lutheran Church in Tracy. The show will include a performance by the local quartet Popular Demand.

The chorus got a new director last fall – Donovan Hanson, the Tracy Elementary School music teacher. According to a news release, he had gotten a phone call asking about his interest in directing the chorus. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“The chorus members like to joke that they’re not much different from kindergarteners when it comes to attention span,” said Hanson in the release. “But they definitely have a different sound. Each of these ladies brings everything they have to the group every single week when we rehearse. They work hard, they know their craft, and they have endless fun doing it. What more could I possibly want?”

Chorus members said they appreciate what Hansen has brought to the table.

“He is just so positive, enthusiastiche has a way of being goofy that’s really effective,” said chorus member Karen Malmberg of Walnut Grove.

“He has challenged us, but he makes it fun – his personality,” said chorus member Margaret Khali of Granite Falls. “Every Tuesday night is a fun night.”

How the Broadway-themed concerts came to life started when the chorus wanted to add to its repertoire.

“We were looking for new music, and we came across a couple of show tunes,” Malmberg said.

Malmberg said the chorus looked for more music in order to put together some concerts. What it ended up with was an array of Broadway music.

“We have Broadway tunes spanning from the early 1900s to ‘Cats,'” said Malmberg. Khali said the chorus is performing numbers from “Kiss Me Kate,” “The Music Man,” “Mary Poppins” and “Guys and Dolls.”

Learning the Broadway songs in barbershop style has been challenging, Malmberg said.

“They’re not tunes that naturally lend themselves to barbershop harmony,” Malmberg said. She said there’s a number of chords in the songs that are not your basic barbershop chords.

Since the chorus is doing Broadway, it decided to add more choreography and props to its show, Malmberg said, which includes glittering top hats and canes.

Because of that choreography, Khali said they’re trying to be expressive with their movements, adding a little “pizzazz.”

Malmberg said the concerts will be dedicated to Wanda Dahl, who died this past August. Dahl was a member of the Sweet Adelines for 60 years and sang with Song of the Prairie chorus for several years.

“We’re very excited about it, and it’s different than our past concerts,” Malmberg said.

Khali said the chorus, which has 11 members, has been trying to find some new singers. There is an incentive through Christmas for those who would like to come and join the Song of the Prairie Chorus, Khali said. The group plans on doing Christmas caroling at the senior living facilities in Marshall and the surrounding communities. The four-part harmony accommodates a wide range of women’s voices, Khali said.

“It’s just a lot of fun to make those chords ring,” Khali said.