Saturday, March 21, 2009

Across the Orange Curtain for "3 Redneck Tenors"

Admittedly, since I've been on the job (7 months already!), I've devoted my entire focus to attending Orange County arts events and, especially, to visiting those I was not already familiar with. No treks to New York or LA or London, I vowed, until I've thoroughly explored OC's offerings.

Until last night. But at least I did have a good excuse.

My friend Craig Bohmler was "in town" with his show "3 Redneck Tenors," and invited me to see him and the show at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. La Mirada is barely across the Orange Curtain and, frankly, has long enjoyed a substantial if not dominant audience of OC theatregoers, so I have to say that I don't exactly feel the burden of guilt for having strayed.

"3 Redneck Tenors" is a silly spin on the blockbuster "3 Tenors" extravaganza that starred Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti 19 years ago. But don't be deceived by its vaudevillian trappings: "3 Redneck Tenors" features three enormously talented singers of everything from grand opera to country music to soul to ballads. Their signature piece, which has been seen by millions of TV viewers, is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony sung a cappella--an amazing sight to behold.

The "3 Redneck Tenors" are actually 2 tenors, a baritone and a bass, and the show was conceived by Matthew Lord, who has appeared with major opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York. They are major talents who take their art very seriously while not taking themselves too seriously.

My friend Craig is the music director and arranger of the show and I've had a long association with him. I first discovered his work during a trip to London in 1997 at the famed Donmar Warehouse, which was offering the world premiere of the musical "Enter the Guardsman" that he wrote with lyricist Marion Adler and her husband, Scott Wentworth, who adapted the Ference Molnar play on which it is based. I doggedly pursued getting that show for the Laguna Playhouse, and when I got nowhere with the agent, I tracked down Craig.

At Laguna, I produced his "Gunmetal Blues," also recording its cast album, "Enter the Guardsman" and in our Youth Theatre, "The Quiltmaker's Gift." I also commissioned Craig's latest musical, "All the More to Love," which will have its premiere in Phoenix later this year.

But Craig is a classical musician and composer whose work is performed by symphony orchestras and opera companies everywhere, so it was especially delightful to hear how inventive he was in arranging last night's music.

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