BWW Review: THE TEXAS TENORS Are Fish Out Of Water at The Green Room 42
Imagine yourself in a vintage store. You see a beautiful piece of pottery, a vase of such resplendent colors and artistry that you must have it so that you can always enjoy its' glory. The shop owner tells you there is a crack in the bottom of this rare and beautiful creation and that the vase will leak any water that you put in it. Undaunted, you decide to buy the vase anyway. That vase is nothing more than beautiful, and beauty will have to do.
That is what last night's concert of The Texas Tenors was like.
The Green Room 42 is constantly on the lookout for the most interesting and diverse acts, and they couldn't have been more diverse than when they booked The Texas Tenors in for a one-night-only show at their cutting edge nightclub. It would have been more believable to read that Il Divo was going to play the edgy hotspot. The Texas Tenors are a trio who took home the top prize in the American's Got Talent TV competition ten years ago and they have had the great good fortune to be booked into big, impressive concert halls for the last decade, entertaining their dedicated fans in gargantuan concerts, the like of which one could find in Las Vegas, a city they have also played. Let it not go unsaid that these men can really sing. They have beautiful voices that perform stunning vocal arrangements created by "The Tenor" John Hagen, and after ten years together, their harmonizing skills are considerable. Listening to Mr. Hagen sing solo on "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" is glorious, and when he is joined on group numbers by "Romantic Tenor" JC Fisher and "Contemporary Tenor" Marcus Collins, the sounds they make are truly beautiful.
It's actually not the end. Maybe standing on stage and singing to a track gets it done in a three thousand seat arena, but when an entertainer or three steps onto a stage in an intimate venue like The Green Room 42, the audience is a little closer, and the scrutiny, a little greater. The three gifted men seen last night seemed to be performing for Madison Square Garden, rendering difficult any real connection with them, even when they went to the trouble of relating directly to the members of the audience in the front row, or when Mr. Collins brought his cheeky act out into the audience for the Bruno Mars song "Just The Way You Are" -- it was fun, to be sure, but it was slick, a little too slick to be considered truly genuine. Though all three men are handsome, charming and talented, there was an unfortunate lack of any real sincerity throughout most of the evening because these three vocal titans have spent so long playing concert arenas where they have to project energy to the masses, that they appear to know not how to connect to individuals. Of course, there were ardent fans, one might even say obsessive fans, who screamed, cheered, sang along, waved their hands in the air (one feared that, at any moment, there would be a sea of lighters threatening to set fire to someone's winter scarf) and responded to the tenors' every move, but that must not create a smokescreen for the fact that Misters Collins, Fisher, and Hagen were performing for a theater much greater than the room they were in, giving the proceedings less an air of a rock concert and more the feel of a Mary Kay industrial. Nightclub audiences are like a woman: you have to take time to get to know them, feel them out, find out where their needs and expectations lie. You can't just roll up on a stage with your ear monitors in, unable to hear anything but your own vocals, and start wailing at them. This is a close space, and falseness slides off the stage and into the patrons' faces, where they can see up close and personal that the words you are saying and singing are the same words you said and sang to your last fifty audiences, and that you have no intention of having any kind of a real moment with them. The Texas Tenors seem like nice men, and they are certainly talented singers, but they would be well advised to consider the clientele for each new show and each individual venue. The only real moments of authenticity happened when Mr. Hagen's number had to be stopped for a technical difficulty, leaving the threesome to vamp with honest to goodness conversation with the audience; and when the Tenors left the stage so that their band could actually play their instruments in a number where the entertainers actually got down into the music and rocked the joint.
The rest of the evening was just pretty. The musicians were aided by tracks that included all the instruments usually onstage with the tenors that wouldn't fit on the smaller nightclub stage, making every number pretty. The singing was pretty, coming from three men standing on stage singing Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere" with big smiles on their faces, blithely unaware that their emotional exhibition was the complete antithesis to the meaning behind the Bernstein/Sondheim classic. The tributes to god and country were pretty, accompanied by video montages that play better on the Jumbotron at Madison Square Garden than they do in a small room where the audience should be watching the performers, not the music videos shot years ago that serve no other purpose than to show the crowd how much the performers have changed with the passage of time. The entire 70-minute concert was pretty and beautiful, much like a grand piano in the middle of the kitchen.
Pretty but without purpose, meaning, spine or teeth.
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