Returning from a four month tour of the US, The Ten Tenors are delighting Brisbane audiences with a new show: The Ten Tenors On Broadway.
Featuring tributes to the classics like Oklahoma, jukebox musicals such as Jersey Boys, block busters like Wicked and the latest offering from the boutique musical Once, all I can say is –
The Ten Tenors – wow.
Since the successful Aussie export has been entertaining audiences over the globe for fifteen years, selling over 3.5 million tickets with four gold and two platinum albums, I’m embarrassed to say that up until this night, I was a Ten Tenor virgin. And having only hours before, handed in a Masters paper (read: sleepless night before), I was genuinely worried about staying awake, and even more worried about the drive home. However, from the moment the boys from The Ten Tenors arrived onstage, my eyes were open, my ears tingling, my face grinning, and my toes were tapping.
With ten powerful voices, all onstage at once, I wondered how that could possibly work. The answer is: a very good sound system and an audio expert (Rupert Pletzer), tweaking the dials up the back. Sound often goes unnoticed (if it’s doing a good job), but with a concert performance that showcases voices, credit is due to the audio department to allow these voices to soar.
While the band consisted of only a live pianist and drummer, placed on either side of a tiered platform onstage, it was a small grievance that it wasn’t a full orchestra, as The Ten Tenors so rightly deserve. But one understands that taking a horde of instruments and the musicians to play them on tour would make the production a less commercially successful venture for a producer. It’s kind of like going to see the view of New York from the Empire State building but not going right to the top floor. The view could possibly be even more amazing, but hey, you’ve still got a great view and not to forget… you’re in New York!
Having said that, the soundtrack (and brilliant arrangements by Dr Steven Baker) were so well produced, I was wondering for a few minutes at the outset where they were hiding the live orchestra. In fact, the epic overture which was so big, so ‘Broadway’, combined with Tony Award style lighting (Shawn Gallen), I really did feel like I was in the city of bright lights.
Another element that has potential to add even more icing on the tinsel town cake, are the projected background images. Even though the images were well picked to suit the tribute segments; ie. Images of sprawling barnyard fields and close ups of wheat were used to compliment the Oklahoma section, it did feel in the beginning that it was only a little more than a slideshow with well-picked stock images. While they helped set the scene, they failed to set the mood, provoke emotion or enhance the storytelling.
With a tiered stage as the set and world-class concert style lighting design, the use of projected video, animation, and a great visual designer would greatly add to the story-telling and overall production value. Having said that, as the show progressed, so did the effort and thought into the background projections. With special mention for the Newsies section where composited archive photos of workers on various New York buildings really told an evocative story that moved me to tears.
‘The Impossible Dream’ from Man of La Mancha background projection displayed a brick wall encasing three arched windows with bars on them. The animated stars through the window arches were a simple touch but really did make a difference. The Queen rock-out number towards the end with ‘Somebody to Love’, from We Will Rock You, with accompanying video clip really hit the mark.
A pre-tour article mentioned the increase of choreographed movement from their last production. The choreography (Keane Fletcher) was a welcome addition and really added entertainment value to the show. The group number ‘Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat’ from Guys and Dolls was lively and fun; as was the tribute to The Jersey Boys (a crowd favourite), and West Side Story (my favourite). Although the host mentioned that they did just about every thing from the show except the interval, they did leave out one number which I thought would be an obvious choice for a large male cast. ‘Gee, Officer Krupke’ would have given them a lot of entertainment mileage if they added it to the repertoire and really milked it for the comedy. More hilarity could have also been injected into the ‘The Lonely Goatheard’, from The Sound of Music.
In fact, overall, I would say, “more comedy!” I think part of the success and charm of this Aussie export is the unique blend of a bunch of loveable lads from down under who can sing really, really well. When chaos reigned the stage towards the end with their rock number from Queen I really felt I was at a rock concert, with rockstars onstage releasing pure energy (and a little pent up anarchy); it was great to watch.
Some of The Ten Tenors took turns in hosting and introducing the numbers. This really helped to make a further connection to the person behind the voice. It was also a nice touch to introduce all ten at the start as well as the end to help build rapport and so we could remember the names of our favourites (and yes, I did have a couple of favourites; Benjamin Clark and new comer Cameron Barclay were sublime).
There are many reasons to see this most entertaining and satisfying show… ten of them in fact. As they are all leading men, each with superb voices, and deserving of credit; the line-up of The Ten Tenors on Broadway includes Robert Barbaro, Cameron Barclay, Joseph Naim, Jared Newall, Scott Muller, Ben Clark, Kyle Sapsford, Sebastian Maclaine, Paul Gelsumini and Keane Fletcher.
The show is highly entertaining, with a true bang for your buck. With the sheer volume of material they covered; I was exhausted by interval. After my first Ten Tenor experience I’m proud to say that I am now a groupie. In the digital era, that means joining their facebook page and publicly gushing about how awesome they are. But like true rockstars, they also had a huge line-up at the merchandising stand that I had not really seen at a performance for a very long time, and even more rare was the roped cordoned off area for fans to line-up and get their new CD of The Ten Tenors on Broadway (Vol 1.), signed, or to get photos, or to just meet them and say ten times – “Wow, you guys are great… are you single?”
The Ten Tenors on Broadway played for two nights only at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC, as part of their Australian tour, before moving onto Melbourne next week. For more information, see their website: www.thetentenors.com
REMAINING TOUR DATES:
Wednesday 11: Melbourne (Athenaeum Theatre)
Thursday 12: Melbourne (Athenaeum Theatre)
Friday 13: Melbourne (Athenaeum Theatre)
Saturday 14: Melbourne (Athenaeum Theatre)
Wednesday 16: Canberra (Canberra Theatre Centre)
Thursday 17: Canberra (Canberra Theatre Centre)
Friday 18: Canberra (Canberra Theatre Centre)
Saturday 19: Canberra (Canberra Theatre Centre)
Wednesday 23: Hobart (Theatre Royal)
Thursday 24: Hobart (Theatre Royal)
Friday 25: Hobart (Theatre Royal)