LGBTs get their weekly fix at devoted dinner

By : Jamie Hyman
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Fox’s hit show Glee goes far beyond simple, everyday television entertainment. The show attracts powerhouse guest stars with powerhouse voices ranging from Kristin Chenoweth to Josh Groban, six to ten million viewers tune in every week and according to Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, the show has sparked a new glee club trend in high schools.

Glee is having an effect on fans of its campy, musical format as well. In Orlando, a group of LGBTs gather every Wednesday night for dinner, cocktails and a raucous, devoted viewing of each new episode of Glee. They call the party “Glee-hab.”

First, a little background for those few who haven’t yet jumped on the Glee bandwagon: Glee is a blend of musical theater, comedy and drama that focuses on the fictional William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. Spanish teacher Will Schuester decides to resurrect the school’s once-triumphant glee club despite roadblocks presented by evil cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, played by pitch-perfect Jane Lynch. The club’s other challenges include how membership tarnishes the reputation of the glee club’s members (especially the football players and cheerleaders), one member’s pregnancy and in-club rivalries for the best roles.

Local director David Lee originally had the idea for Glee-hab, but much like the show itself, the concept became fraught with drama.

“I was inviting a few people over to my house to watch the show, and suddenly, John Sullivan and his husband Greg decided to usurp it from me, invite twice as many to their house and add a food component,” Lee says. “It was five people at my house; now, it’s a ‘big gourmet burgers on the grill dinner party thing,’ completely out of control.”

If Glee-hab was Glee, this is the point where Lee would gather his best Motown backup singers and break into a well-choreographed cover of “Backstabber” by the O’Jays.

“Unlike Kristin Chenoweth, Kristi Dawn to her friends, David Lee has yet to win a Tony or Emmy award, but while he’s working on it, if he’s available to serve hors d’ouvres at the next meeting of Glee-hab, he’s more than welcome,” retorts Sullivan. “We can go back to having it at David’s just as soon as he puts an addition on.”

Rivalries aside, Glee-habbers look forward to their Wednesday night get-togethers.

“It’s like a meeting of the drama club, but 15 years later, where a lot of people with the same tastes get excited about the same show and it’s cool to enjoy it socially,” says John Ryan, whose day job is at the Shakespeare Theatre. Ryan’s Glee-hab job is key to full enjoyment of the party. He holds the remote control.

“It’s necessary for me to be the remote guy because I don’t like to miss anything,” Ryan says. “I monitor the room, and if we’re on too much of a tangent, I pause, let them socialize a bit, then round everyone back up. The breaks are good, but I still like to focus on the show!”

Ryan’s cocktail of choice is a Captain and Diet, while Lee prefers a “Michelle Obama,” a recipe which he says is top secret. Glee-hab dinners have included chili, pasta salad and gourmet pizzas—any food that is easy to balance on laps while keeping eyes focused on the television.

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Glee-habbers say the show’s appeal is based on an innate relatability, despite the sitcom’s over-the-top situations.

“I think it’s a perfect mix of fantasy and hyped reality with actual reality, fantastic musical numbers, performances and arch characters,” said Ryan. “[The show’s characters] are living out the dream of actually breaking into song… in high school.”

Sam Singhaus, also known as local drag entertainer Miss Sammy, is a frequent Glee-hab host.

“Because it’s character-driven, we can all identify,” Singhaus says. “We knew the characters in high school, even though they’re all caricatures. It’s well-written, they intertwine those characters so well, and of course, the music is stunning.”

Singhaus says Glee-hab will continue as long as Glee stays on the air.

“Glee is just like its music, all about harmony, and when different characters who on the surface hate each other sing together, it’s beautiful,” he says. “The only way it would be better is if they did two episodes a week.”

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