‘Broadway Tenors’ sound big with Symphony Pops
In the 1990s, “The Three Tenors” were all the rage. Opera singers Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti had joined forces and created an operatic tenor super group.
Brent Barrett, who at the time had starred in numerous Broadway musicals including “West Side Story,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Grand Hotel,” thought he could use the same concept, but instead with some of the talented Broadway leading men he knew.
In 2000, Barrett launched “The Broadway Tenors” with himself and two other tenors: Hugh Panaro, who had played Raoul and the Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera,” and Alan Campbell, who was Tony-nominated for his performance as Joe Gillis in “Sunset Boulevard.”
“The Broadway Tenors” are expected to sing more than 30 Broadway hits in “Ultimate Broadway” with the Allentown Symphony Pops, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.
“When you add the orchestra, there’s nothing like it,” Barrett says. “On Broadway, you never have an orchestra this big. Once you add all those strings, it’s spectacular.”
The orchestra will be conducted by Ron Demkee, Pops Conductor, under the music direction of Diane Wittry, ASO Music Director.
For the Allentown concert, Barett will be joined by Kyle Massy, who played the title role in the recent revival of “Pippin,” and Matt Cavenaugh, who played Tony in the recent revival of “West Side Story.”
Barrett says “The Broadway Tenors” took off when it debuted, but it was difficult to book performances around the busy schedules of working Broadway actors, so he came up with the idea of having a rotating group of singers.
“Instead of using the same three guys all the time, we could have a group of guys who could take turns,” Barrett says. “We could change up solos depending on who’s performing in specific shows. That lets everyone do their own thing.”
The tenors who take turns singing with “The Broadway Tenors” include some of the biggest stars on Broadway: Barrett, Panaro, Massy, Cavenaugh, Gavin Creel, Norm Lewis, Stephen Bogardus, Lewis Cleale, Aaron Lazar, Max von Essen, Sean Mcdermott, Kevin Spirtas, George Dvorsky, John Cudia, Sal Viviano, Aaron Lazar, Ron Bohmer and Brian Lane Green.
“They’re all great performers and great singers,” Barrett says.
Barrett says the format is a lot of fun and there is lots of engaging patter and interaction between the tenors. The group only does between 10 and 12 concerts annually.
Barrett brings an impressive resume to the group.
Barrett made his Broadway debut in 1980 in “West Side Story” and reprised the role of Tony on the International Tour. He played Baron Felix Von Gaigern in “Grand Hotel,” including on the Tony awards telecast. He went on to play Frank Butler in multiple versions of Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” with Cathy Rigby and Reba McIntyre, which he calls one of his most memorable performances.
Barrett was most recently on Broadway reprising his role as Billy Flynn in the Tony Award-winning “Chicago: The Musical.”
“I’ve been doing ‘Chicago’ on and off for 20 years,” he says. “I did it on Broadway, on tour and even an production that went to Seoul Tokyo and Taipei.”
For the Allentown concert, one of the songs he will perform is “All I Care About is Love” from “Chicago.”
He received an Olivier Award nomination for starring in the London premiere of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of “Kiss Me, Kate.” That performance was recorded and shown on PBS.
He debuted as the Phantom in the new Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom: The Vegas Spectacular” at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
Other Broadway roles include Charles Castleton in the Alan Jay Lerner musical “Dance a Little Closer,” Maximilian in the Broadway revival of “Candide,” and Tommy Albright in New York City Opera’s production of “Brigadoon.” In New Zealand, he played Archibald in “The Secret Garden.”
Other songs he will sing in Allentown include “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera,” “You’re Nothing Without Me” from “City of Angels,” and a “Vegas” version of “Mack the Knife” from Kurt Weil’s “Three Penny Opera.”
“The music runs the gamut,” he says.
Cauvenaugh, most recently seen as Tony in the Broadway revival of “West Side Story,” will sing “Maria” from the show.
Kyle Dean Massey, who most recently played the title role in the Broadway revival of “Pippin,” will sing “Corner of the Sky” from the show. He also will perform “Come What May” from a new musical, “Moulin Rouge,” to open on Broadway next year.
Other songs the tenors will perform include “Something’s Coming” from “West Side Story,” “Some Enchanted Evening” from “South Pacific,” and selections “Jersey Boys.”
They also will perform choreographed medley’s written for the group, including songs by Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein and a New York medley.
Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715