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BWW Review: The Power Of Ten! The Ten Tenors Raise The Roof At The McCallum Theatre

BWW Review: The Power Of Ten! The Ten Tenors Raise The Roof At The McCallum Theatre

After surviving a tumultuous election season and, let's face it, a pretty scathing couple of years of anger, hatred and division, sometimes you just need to grab a couple hours of joy wherever you can find it. Last night I found my joy at The McCallum Theatre as The Ten Tenors opened a six show stretch, breaking their thirty sold-out show record with standing room only attendance. They are, in fact, the most popular group in the history of the McCallum Theatre. (In fact, as they proclaim from the stage, they consider The McCallum their "home away from home") And there is no doubt as to why.. Their stunning vocal prowess in combination with slick production and wry Aussie humor makes for an evening that is both the icing and the cake!

The Ten Tenors, in this iteration, are Cameron Barclay, Daniel Belle, Michael Edwards, Keane Fletcher, Paul Gelsumini, Nigel Huckle, Nathan Lay, Adrian Li Donni, Jared Newell and James Watkinson. There is no published show program that indicates which Tenor is which or what song features any particular Tenor, which is a shame because I am unable to offer accolades to the standouts. However, it can be said that each of the Tenors is blessed with a lovely vocal instrument - some truly remarkable and some unremarkable. The power of the group lies solely in "The Power Of Ten". It is not their solo turns that keep one coming back for more. It is the glory of the harmonies. When they sing together the heavens open.

If you have seen the Tenors in previous concert production, as have I, then the style and staging, and even most of the repertoire, is no surprise - even down to their signature Tenor stance, group formations and mic drops. But the harmonies are always as thrilling as the first time you heard them. Some of the "rock repertoire" feels a little out of character, akin to The Brady Bunch trying to look cool while singing pop music. The Tenors are charming, elegant and super talented vocalists - but when they do "cool" there are only a few who can pull it off. They are at their best when singing their classical repertoire, their Aussie repertoire ("Waltzing Matilda" is as breathtaking as ever, as is "I Still Call Australia Home" ) and the show's standout "Bohemian Rhapsody" - which is vocal splendor. It's just the "pop star" moves and cool-quotient that get in the way for many in the crew. The Jersey Boys Medley, ending Act One, was also expertly staged and executed.

The Tenors do a tongue in cheek "Divas Medley" at the top of the second act that is a crowd favorite - but for me just reinforces why these songs are best sung by The Divas. It was nice to see some holiday songs added to the mix as a pre-cursor to Thanksgiving. Oh Holy Night was very moving. In fact it prompted me to purchase the Tenors holiday CD in the lobby on my way out.

My only real criticism is that the Tenors seem to lack honesty and real warmth in their performances. They are too slick and too practiced. The humanity and "realness" that you hope to see shine through just doesn't come through at all - it all seems contrived and polished to the point of animatronics. Even their "playfulness" with each other seems contrived. The live theatre is one of the only places you can go for that intimate human connection and artists that can deliver both talent and humanity are becoming rarer with the years. It was a shame to spend an evening with ten talented and charismatic men and have it feel so cold and calculated. The vocal arrangements and choreography are expertly executed. The honesty and sincerity factor misses the mark. I just think their is a missed opportunity for real connection with the audience rather than trying so hard to be pop stars.

Jamie Schmidt's lighting design is truly an equal to the vocal power of the ten. It not only supports the production in every way, but truly elevates the overall production. The sound mix was also near perfection and the harmonic blends, from a sound perspective, were superb. The rhythm section (Liam Hogan; drummer, Thomas Lindner; guitarist, and Benjamin Kiehne, Pianist) combined with pre-recorded orchestral tracks served the production well and provided the feel of a larger symphony.

The Ten Tenors will no doubt continue their reign as The McCallum's faves! They are crowd pleasers at every turn and the power in their combined vocals in exciting and addictive. I understand that there are very few tickets left to see The Tenors this run, but well worth the attempt to call or visit the box office. If its your first time your jaw will be on the floor. If you've seen The Tenors before it is like a holiday visit with old friends. This is a definite "run, don't walk". I always like to offer kudos to Mitch Gershenfeld for knowing desert audiences so well and for such eclectic and thoughtful programming. The McCallum is lucky to have him at the helm.

Performances times for The TEN TENORS are:

Wednesday, November 21, 8:00pm

Friday, November 23, 8:00pm

Saturday, November 24, 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Sunday, November 25, 2:00pm

For tickets or information on The McCallum's incredible 2018-19 Season visit www.mccallumtheatre,com.

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From This Author David Green