Chris Marchant calls me from the "Well-Strung headquarters" — a four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Astoria, Queens, where he and three other gorgeous, chiseled gay men cohabit. Together, the guys hang out, hit the gym down the block, and listen to a mix of show tunes, Rihanna, and Adele while basking in the perfect harmony of their NYC bromance. "I think we all have some messy and some clean tendencies," Marchant tells me when I go sniffing for a hint of roomie drama. "It works together."
But these aren't Derek, Meekus, Rufus, and Brint we're talking about, and this story does not end tragically in a gasoline fight accident. In fact, Marchant, along with buddies Edmund Bagnell, Daniel Shevlin, and Trevor Wadleigh, though admittedly camera-ready, put their talents to another, somewhat more surprising use. Together, they make up Well-Strung, a "hunky string quartet." They compose clever mashups of classical music and contemporary pop, they sing, and they've been invited to perform for everyone from Kathy Lee and Hoda Kotb to Hillary Clinton.
"We put out a music video as a sort of pastiche of 'Stacy's Mom' called 'Chelsea's Mom,' all about Hillary Clinton," Marchant gushes. "We got to perform the song for her at a fundraiser and meet her, and it was amazing."
The guys built up a die-hard fan base in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the summer of 2012, where second violinist Marchant and producer Mark Cortale first conceptualized the idea. Marchant was living in Provincetown, performing in Naked Boys Singing and playing violin on the street to make extra money before meeting Cortale at a brunch. They decided to hold auditions for a quartet, and Well-Strung was born.
The result is a group of super-charming, impressively buff boys whose résumés span the realms of musical theater and classical performance and whose musical tastes tend to veer into Top 40 territory: "Kesha and JoJo are always on my list. Rihanna, Kelly — all those girls," Marchant says.
Tracks off their second release, October's POPssical, include highlights like a mashup of Lorde's "Royals" with composer Karl Jenkins' "Palladio," a classical interpretation of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space," and a Maurice Ravel string quartet. If it sounds like a niche concept, that's because it is. But Well-Strung has garnered fans from across the spectrum.
"Our demographic started out as mostly gay men, because our origin was in Provincetown," Marchant says. "People would see us there and then bring us to do shows in their hometowns. Since then, it's really just taken off. It's awesome to see gay couples, straight couples, kids, grandparents, families at the shows. Our target is just anyone who likes classical music or likes pop music and wants to see them presented together."
A typical week in the life of Well-Strung involves three to four living room rehearsals, where the guys "just pull out our iPads and read classical music together." When they're not rehearsing or touring, they can be found working out, obviously. Marchant's personal regimen involves an hour and a half of gym time, six days a week (Google his pics for proof). "I used to be a very tiny, scrawny kid," he claims. "We all go to the same gym since it's right down the street from our apartment, so we see each other there all the time."
The guys have spent the past few months preparing for their latest tour, A Well-Strung Christmas, which Marchant says will include "some of the things you'd expect to hear at a typical Christmas show, but with a little Well-Strung flare thrown in...It's gonna be like coming to a party in Well-Strung's living room." When I ask how they'll get into the theme costume-wise, Marchant insists they're "not trying to do the typical thing." Although, he confesses, "I'd kind of love to see Daniel in a terrible Christmas sweater. That would make me happy."
Unfortunately, if you're looking for the perfect holiday gift from you to you, you're going to have to wait for a Well-Strung calendar to be put together. "Oh my gosh, I've wanted to do a calendar since day one! I think it'd be so fun and stupid," Marchant laughs. "Maybe I can make it happen."
A Well-Strung Christmas
7:30 p.m. Friday, December 18, at Amaturo Theater at Broward Center, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-522-5334; ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $35 to $45 plus fees.
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