By Greg Hernandez
Although they are long-time Center friends, Well-Strung’s concert on December 8 will mark the first time the singing string quartet has performed a holiday show at the Center’s Renberg Theatre.
“We have some holiday classics that we’ll be doing, but we’ve also picked some fun, off-the-beaten-path holiday music that you probably wouldn’t find in other Christmas shows,” explains Chris Marchant, who plays 2nd violin.
Songs performed during A Well-Strung Christmas will range from standards, such as Silent Night to more contemporary favorites, such as Hard Candy Christmas.
Trevor Wadleigh (viola) uses his dry sense of humor to describe the show: “We bring merriment and joy to those across the land. We bring good tidings. It’s some of our usual material, but we kind of go full-on holiday spectacular and give it a Well-Strung bent.”
The show is scheduled for 8 p.m., which, Wadleigh says, gives audience members plenty of time to attend holiday parties.
“You can just bookend our show with parties,” he says. “That seems appropriate.”
The quartet was conceived in 2012 by Marchant and producer Mark Cortale and produces their unique blend of vocals and strings by fusing classical music with modern pop songs.
All members of the group are openly gay and share an apartment in New York City…as friends. The group’s other members are Edmund Bagnell (1st violin) and Daniel Shevlin (cello).
“A lot of our chemistry on stage comes from living together,” Marchant says. “But we actually have to reign the banter in a little bit because otherwise the audience would just get a slew of inside jokes back and forth and no music would be played.”
Marchant and Wadleigh’s participation last year in the CBS competition series The Amazing Race earned the group some new fans, even though they were eliminated early in their pursuit of the $1 million first prize.
“Every show we go to there’s at least one person who will come up sand say, ‘I totally discovered you guys through The Amazing Race,’” says Marchant.
Adds Wadleigh: “It’s nice going back to places and seeing fans who knew us from the quartet then watched us on The Amazing Race. It’s awesome to talk to them about it. Some of their friends have become fans and jumped on the Well-Strung bandwagon.”
The group’s latest album, Under the Covers, was released in September and will be available for purchase after the performance.
“It’s the best stocking stuffer money can buy,” Wadleigh says. “We’re really excited about it. It includes our favorite arrangements that we’ve done in the time we’ve spent together.”
The group spends its summers performing in Provincetown and tours extensively in the U.S. and internationally the rest of the year. They have headlined at such venues as New York’s Feinstein’s/54 Below, House of Blues in New Orleans, and the Leicester Square Theatre in London.
They have also been invited to perform at a gala for former U.S. President Barack Obama and at the Vatican. Hillary Clinton requested a special performance by the group as a result of their viral music video Chelsea’s Mom.
In addition, Well-Strung has performed on the NBC’s The Today Show and live onstage with Tony Award-winners Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris, and Audra McDonald, among others.
For the group, there is something special about returning to the Renberg stage, where Sarah Jones just finished an extended run and such stars as Lily Tomlin, Billy Porter, Coco Peru, Carol Channing, Margaret Cho, Jenifer Lewis, Leslie Jordan, Liza Minnelli, and Jane Fonda have also appeared.
“We have such good memories of our shows at the Renberg,” Marchant says. “We really like being in L.A. and our audience has really grown since we first started playing there four years ago. It’s cool to be hosted by a Center that is championing the rights of the LGBT community that we are a part of.”
The Renberg Theatre is located inside the Center’s Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at lalgbtcenter.org/theatre or by calling (323) 860-7300.