Review: ‘The Ten Tenors’

The gifted Aussies known as the Ten Tenors create a rich and commanding group sound that actually gives weight and relevance to songs that don't deserve the attention.

The gifted Aussies known as the Ten Tenors create a rich and commanding group sound that actually gives weight and relevance to songs that don’t deserve the attention. The real magic occurs when the tenors focus on the good stuff, ranging from the opera buffa of Rossini to the rock-tinged zaniness of Queen, with a barrage of homeland folk tunes in between. Impressively supported by an adroit instrumental quartet led by music director-pianist Steven Baker, the singers project a well-balanced blend of creative ensemble harmonies and solo virtuosity. Their controlled onstage interactions never get in the way of the music.

Many of the numbers in this two-hour songfest are taken from their recently released CD, “Here’s to the Heroes,” heavily weighted with the ponderous tunes of film composer John Barry, including the opening title song. The dramatic depth of the Tenors’ vocal output, abetted by the evocative lighting of Peter Kramer and Shawn Gallen, imposes a relevance that doesn’t inherently exist in such monotonous Barry melodies as “You Only Live Twice,” “There’ll Come a Day,” “We Have All the Time in the World” and “Tick the Days Off.” The latter two numbers, however, highlight the soaring, crystalline tone and transcendent vocal control of Shannon Brown.

Group is rather short in the grand opera repertoire, despite Brown’s comically insightful instructions to the audience on how to identify the national origins of any opera.

The guys acquit themselves quite well with Leoncavallo’s dramatically sorrowful “Vesti la Giuba,” with Liam McLachlan handling most of the solo work. The same can be said for their zesty outing on Rossini’s comical but tricky Figaro aria “Largo al Factotum,” featuring a vocal gymnastic turn by Jeff Teale.

Though they tend to move deliberately about the stage forming geometric patterns, the tentet show they can be totally relaxed as they rip through the first-act closer, a rousing medley of Australian folk songs, including “Botany Bay,” “Moreton Bay,” “A Thousand Miles Away” and “Waltzing Matilda.” The number would be even more effective if the sound engineer exercised some restraint with the reverb. The guys don’t need it.

As well as they sing individually and in small groups, they are truly incandescent when performing at the full strength of 10. True highlight of the evening is their cantata-like arrangement of the Queen standard “Bohemian Rhapsody,” featuring exquisite vocal interludes by David Kidd.

The Ten Tenors

Pantages Theater; 2,700 seats; $58 top

Production

A Broadway/L.A. presentation of a musical revue in two acts, conceived by the Ten Tenors. Directed by Mathew Hickey, Drew Graham. Music direction, Steven Baker.

Creative

Lighting, Peter Kramer, Shawn Gallen; sound, Shaun Mclean. Opened, reviewed Oct. 23, 2006. Runs through Nov. 5. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast

With: Craig Atkinson, Shannon Brown, Drew Graham, Craig Hendry, David Kidd, Liam McLachlan, Dion Molinas, Stewart Morris, Adrian Phillips, Jeff Teale.
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