By Kristin Costanza
Back by popular demand, the 3 Redneck Tenors have fine-tuned their stage show, giving focus to their exquisite vocal talents all the while telling a humorous and endearing tale of their rise to fame.
3 Redneck Tenors is composed of three classically trained singers—founder Matt Lord, Blake Davidson, and Jonathan Frugé—who, prior to their current collaboration, have worked with such companies as the San Francisco Opera, Dallas Opera, and the Juilliard Opera Center, and have performed at Carnegie Hall and the New York Metropolitan Opera. They have sung for audiences all over the world, yet they have never experienced more success than from a show that originated as a school fundraiser.
That’s right—founder Matt Lord thought donning a mullet wig and denim coveralls while singing opera would be an amusing way to showcase his talent to a non-classical crowd. He was apparently right, as 3 Redneck Tenors took off beyond anyone’s expectations. Word of mouth spread to other venues and Lord’s fun parody became a national touring act. While the show and two of the three Rednecks have evolved since that first performance, the energy and charm that allowed for the show to grow and improve have been there from the beginning. Clearly, Lord doesn’t take his undeniable singing talent overly seriously and sees the advantage of leaving room for humor.
The name 3 Redneck Tenors is a play on something Lord is critical of in his genre, explaining, “The reason I’m not a big fan of the tenor thing is it’s three vocal types singing together at the same time in unison, and I find it extremely uninteresting.” In this particular trifecta of “tenors,” Lord is a tenor while the other singers are a high tenor and a baritone. A bass vocalist has also been a part of previous shows. This mix allows for a rich and layered sound. And while he is a fan of the original 3 Tenors— Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti—he pokes fun at the “tenor-mania” that seemed to ensue following the success of the original three. Despite this, Lord took advantage of the craze when forming the group who perform in From Rags to Rednecks, acknowledging that “the act initially sold on the name.” These days, the 3 Redneck Tenors have no problem landing opportunities to provide audiences with solid entertainment.
Their infectious combination of humor and studied singing talent helped the Tenors to further grow their audience when they performed well on the popular television competition show America’s Got Talent in 2007, and when they became a monthly performer at the Luxor in Las Vegas in 2008. They currently are artists-in-residence at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, where they perform From Rags to Rednecks up to six times each week.
This is the same show that will be performed on the MBT Main Stage on February 21,2015. From Rags to Rednecks—The True Fictional Story of the Redneck Tenors involves new songs, new medleys, and lots of new laughs and has been a critical success in its previews and residency. As its title implies, the show will take audiences from the group’s start as young singers without representation on to the fame they’re currently experiencing. We’ll see the Rednecks as youth, jailbirds, and finally as world class performers. Where previous 3 Redneck Tenors shows involved a fairly even mix of storytelling and singing, Rags packs in song after song, relying more on visual gags than outward jokes to illicit giggles from the audience. We’ll hear gospel, country, classical, pop, and Broadway, all delivered with power and a unique spin only the Rednecks can pull off. “We don’t parody the singing,” affirms Lord.
Another update to the show is that the content is entirely family friendly, a refreshing change of pace from the oft-adult spin of other stage show parodies. Lord and his collaborators sought broad appeal when mounting Rags, taking huge stock in the benefits of clean humor and paying attention to critical reviews that suggested they didn’t need to rely on “cheap” laughs. One key voice in influencing their content update was Jimmy Osmond (yes, of the Osmonds), who is the current Head of Operations at the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre. Said Frugé, “[Osmond] was not only astounded by the singing quality, but the quality of the humor and the fact it was still funny and we were so willing to change what we needed to change to make this show work for us [and] our audience…”