The Twelve Irish Tenors
Fog drifts across the stage as a lone Irish Tenor stands under a spotlight. With the flick of a switch, 11 others come to light, singing a song titled “One Voice.” This song sets the tone as each tenor voices his talents while also harmonizing with his fellow performers.
Dressed in black suits, white shirts and flashy ties, the Twelve Irish Tenors are a handsome group. They enjoy winking, raising eye brows and sharing direct eye contact. While charm and good looks are part of the allure, these guys are serious about mixing fun, enthusiasm and international flair into their performances.
All 12 tenors share Irish heritage, but they aren’t all from Ireland. They come together from across the globe, performing Irish favorites like “Danny Boy” and “Molly Malone.” Each tenor introduces himself, revealing his age, musical training and where he calls home. “Irish Eyes Smiling” with spirited Irish dancing wraps-up the tribute to the homeland.
No offense to Barry Manilow, but I think their tribute to him sounds better than the original. Don’t worry if, like me, you’re not a Manilow fan because these guys sing a variety of tunes, aiming to please the masses.
Musical/creative director Barry Potts, 32, plays keyboards most nights while directing the Tony Savage Orchestra, but he’s versatile. “I jump in if somebody is sick or joins a boy band,” he says. Already, two of the original 12 have left to chase that boy-band dream.
About 18 months ago, Potts auditioned more than 10,000 young men from New York to New Zealand and all over Europe. He says the process was “like a Chippendale’s audition, but they kept their clothes on.” It took three months to find the right men for the job. These talented tenors, ranging in age from 21-39, bring individual voices to the act and together make a diverse group.
At 39, Joseph Porkowski is the most seasoned tenor. With classical training in opera, it’s not surprising that he sings several solos. Porkowski belts out “It’s Now or Never” in both Italian and English, along with hits from Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. The audience listens intently, melting into his voice while the remaining tenors blend in on back-up.
The pace quickens with a funky rendition of “Mack the Knife,” sparking energy onstage and in the audience. “That’s Life,” made famous by Frank Sinatra, leads the men to dance on chairs and run through the audience, whooping-up excitement. These swing songs include slick dance choreography.
Allen Jay, 25, performs and works as dance choreographer for the United States leg of the tour. He’s a charming dark-haired lad from Scotland. “This show has literally something for everybody if you like music,” he says. “People from 10 to 90, I think, would like it.”
When the group announces the show’s coming to a close, the crowd moans. Smiles return for a Beatles tribute, beginning with “Yesterday.” During “Twist and Shout,” they ask everybody to stand up and dance along. Six females in the audience oblige. While singing “Hey Jude,” the crowd joins in for the “na na na na’s,” waving hands back and forth across the audience in unison.
It’s time for the curtain to fall, and the Twelve Irish Tenors say goodnight. This Tuesday crowd, filling most of the 580 seats, gives them a standing ovation with cheering and whistling. This act of appreciation sums up the show nicely.